Spike in deaths of sea turtles?

Photo by nwmuse

As oil spill grows, sea turtle strandings increase sharply

There have been 162 sea turtles strandings this month along the coast from Florida to Louisiana, national wildlife officials said Tuesday, a number much higher than any May total in the last five years.

Officials said that 156 of the turtles died.

While noting the higher rate of strandings, the same officials stopped short of blaming the ongoing oil spill, adding that there were no visible signs of oil on the turtle carcasses…

Is this just the beginning?

Most of the dead sea turtles recovered since April are juvenile Kemps Ridleys, which have been on the endangered species list since 1970. Beach surveys are ongoing to locate turtle nests.

Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, said multiple state agencies are documenting impacts and working to understand the long-term effects of the spill.

“We’ve recovered a relatively small number of visibly oiled birds in this spill,” Gould said. “The visibly oiled birds are only a small part of the concern. What concerns us most is what we can’t see — the probable effects of the spill on the coastal environment.”

Of immediate concern, Gould said, are dozens of local bird species that breed along the Gulf Coast: “We expect they’ll bear the brunt of the immediate impact of the oil. I don’t know if we will ever know the full impact of oil on the birds.”

So… Then what happens if they CAN’T cap or stop this gushing leak..?

(Gould:) “We are preparing for the likelihood that (the spill) will persist in the gulf ecosystem for years to come,” he said. “This spill is unprecedented. We may never know the spill’s full impact on birds and marine mammals.”

And in the meantime, the head of BP, Tony Hayward,  is out there saying this:

“I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest,” Tony Hayward said. “It is impossible to say and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environmental assessment but everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest.”

And this:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

Oh… I feel so much better now.. Though, I don’t quite sense any remorse in these statements. No comprehension either. Either Mr. Hayward doesn’t get it, or he flat out doesn’t care (or both).

Consider then the coastal ‘Dead Zones’ that have been a serious concern globally, studied for over twenty years now. The ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico is now compounded further by the leaking [gushing] of gas as well as the oil.

We are facing an ecological catastrophe on a scale I can’t quite wrap my head around.

This next graphic was posted here in 2008:

The problem with the ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico was already  a very serious problem. So, now..?

Rachel Maddow discussed these ‘Dead Zones’ on her show two nights ago:

For more reading on the coastal ‘Dead Zones’, and the impact of this spill:

UPDATE: Gas Leak 3000 Times Worse Than Oil – Updated Math

This repost of a diary from 2 days ago describes the fact that there is 3000 times more natural gas coming out of the leak than oil.  All of the gas is currently staying in the water because the ocean has the capacity to hold large quantities of methane in solution.

When methane breaks down it depletes oxygen in the water.
Then, when it continues to break down it produces hydrogen sulfate

After some discussions with people who are currently working to determine the extent of this undersea damage, I decided we need to revisit this topic:  The damage of the massive amounts of Gas being released into the gulf is worse than the oil

Gulf oil spill: An ‘ecological disaster’?

..Louisiana’s dead zone, the world’s second largest (after the Baltic Sea), arrives every year after fertilizer washing down the Mississippi River feds enormous blooms of algae that die, sink to the bottom and begin to decay. The decomposition sucks oxygen out of the seawater, leaving little or none for fish and other marine life.

Monitoring stations run by the marine consortium have already detected some low-oxygen zones, said Rabalais, from her office on Terrebonne Bay, adding that the year’s zone could be exacerbated by surface oil blocking lifegiving oxygen from enriching the water. “The oil sheen, the layering on the surface of the water, could prevent the diffusion of oxygen into the water,” she said. “It could aggravate the low-oxygen zone that we’re already seeing develop in the gulf.”..

Gulf Wildlife ‘Dead Zone’ Keeps Growing

An over 7,000-square-mile wildlife “dead zone” located in the center of the Gulf of Mexico has grown from being a curiosity to a colossus over the past two decades, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and scientists are now concerned the recent oil spill and other emerging chemical threats could widen the zone even further.

The NWF describes the dead zone as being “the largest on record in the hemisphere in coastal waters and one of the biggest in the world.”

During the summer months, it is nearly devoid of wildlife, save for the dead bodies of crabs, shrimp and other marine species that succumb to oxygen depletion in the polluted water.

Animal toxicology experts believe the Gulf dead zone is a man-made monstrosity…

Underwater oil could create new ‘dead zone’ in Gulf

Who’s to blame for the oil spill? Dick Cheney (Thanks, Dick..)

And in that vein, please don’t miss this:

Ed Schultz interviews environmental lawyer Mike Papantonio (who is suing BP concerning on behalf of fisherman and local businesses hurt by the oil spill in 5 states).

Mike Papantonio, an environmental lawyer on the Ed Show just now: An ‘acoustic switch’ would have prevented this catastrophe – it’s a failsafe that shuts the flow of oil off at the source – they cost only about half a million dollars each, and are required in off-shore drilling platforms in most of the world…except for the United States. This was one of the new deregulations devised by Dick Cheney during his secret meetings with the oil industry at the beginning of Bush’s first term.

Someone has to hold these people accountable. REAL accountability this time. The damage is off the scales.

Then, real experts – people who actually care about the health of our planet and who aren’t owned by the oil industry –  need to be brought in and listened to. The time is now, before it’s too late (if it’s not too late already..). The corporations don’t care about anything but the bottom line and their profit margins. They don’t care about all the living creatures that will die, all the coastline that will be destroyed, the ‘dead zones’ that will increase in size, all the jobs and livelihoods that will lost for years to come.. They should pay dearly, but they shouldn’t be in control of the ‘facts’, the reporting on it, and the solutions. How can we as a planet trust the people who did this in the first place to be responsible to fix the problem in a safe, thorough, and timely fashion.. It’s time to get more people involved, people with much more knowledge and expertise, who aren’t owned by the oil companies and big business. The fragile balance of this planet’s ecosystem is at risk. Now.

Remember the EXXON Valdez oil spill. This is very likely going to be worse. Much worse.

The Exxon Valdez Disaster: 20 Years Later

Gulf oil now in powerful Loop Current, scientists say

The first oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has entered an ocean current that could take it to Florida and up the east coast of the US, scientists say.

The European Space Agency said satellite images suggested oil could reach the coral reefs of the Florida Keys within six days.

“We have visible proof that at least oil from the surface… has reached the current,” said Dr Bertrand Chapron.

So, President Obama, please, think long and hard before you follow through with opening up offshore drilling.. Consider MUCH stronger regulations and oversight for existing drilling sites. Please, put the health and well-being of this planet first. If we screw this one up too badly, there isn’t another to take it’s place..

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

56 thoughts on “Spike in deaths of sea turtles?

  1. Thanks for ‘rambling’ Muse – this is so excellent!

    I’m just spitting mad at the attempted minimization, of this disaster, by the likes of the ‘radio hate mongers’ and even those that caused this mess: BP in particular.

    Your round up is very much appreciated!

  2. Excellent.

    This was one of the new deregulations devised by Dick Cheney during his secret meetings with the oil industry at the beginning of Bush’s first term.

    I think we know why Dick Cheney hasn’t emerged from his hole lately.

  3. There needs to be some serious accounting here. Someone[s] needs to go to prison. For a long time. And congress had better not stand in the way of making them pay HUGE monetary damages for the damage and loss of life and livelihoods they caused. HUGE amounts.

  4. “In the immortal words of Dick Cheney, So what? I mean this turtles have been dying off for 40 years. The important thing is between the crude oil, gases and dispersants we have been pumping more toxins and poisons into the Gulf than Kevorkian ever dreamed of using.

    Now if we can just keep the cameras off the Gulf for another month or so we will have this bath tub of poisonous swill so we can keep drilling and tell the tree huggers, so what? The Gulf is already dead, we can make money! Get your shrimp from Viet Nam and quit whining.”

    We are so close to being totally screwed.

  5. This needs a good whoring over at TP. 😀 I’ll wait until the top thread goes off the rails, then I’ll do it — unless another Critter does it first.

    Fantastic work, muse!

    • Then I wonder, if TP will come up with a duplicate in three days or so 😉 The Alex Seitz-Walz guy is my guess will do it.

  6. Common Dreams has this posted today:

    BP Withholds Oil Spill Facts — and Government Lets It

    BP, the company in charge of the rig that exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, hasn’t publicly divulged the results of tests on the extent of workers’ exposure to evaporating oil or from the burning of crude over the gulf, even though researchers say that data is crucial in determining whether the conditions are safe.

    Moreover, the company isn’t monitoring the extent of the spill and only reluctantly released videos of the spill site that could give scientists a clue to the amount of the oil in gulf.

    BP’s role as the primary source of information has raised questions about whether the government should intervene to gather such data and to publicize it and whether an adequate cleanup can be accomplished without the details of crude oil spreading across the gulf.

    Under pressure from senators, BP released four videos Tuesday, but it hasn’t agreed to better monitoring.

    The company also hasn’t publicly released air sampling for oil spill workers although Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency in charge of monitoring compliance with worker safety regulations, is relying on the information and has urged it to do so….

    No surprises there..

  7. Muse, as I have pointed out several times here and on other blogs, you can’t pin this on Dick Cheney, much as you would like.

    “Mike Papantonio, an environmental lawyer on the Ed Show just now: An ‘acoustic switch’ would have prevented this catastrophe “

    Nope, wrong, this is the kind of factual mistake that people who don’t know what they are talking about but get a slot on TV do. Please look at my posts to know why. I’m a bit tired of pointing this out.

    Dick Cheney is responsible for the climate of lax/voluntary regulation, but sorry, this statement about acoustic triggers is flat out wrong.

    • Hi Terry. I listen to Ring of Fire when I get the chance. I have a lot of respect for both Papantonio and Bobby Kennedy Jr and all the work they do. I know that Papantonio has talked to a lot of people since this spill, including people who worked for BP. How are you so sure he is wrong? He certainly sounds like he knows what he’s talking about on this.

      Here’s another person writing on what Papantonio had to say:
      Dick Cheney and the oil spill by Michael Tomasky of The Guardian

      and here is the article to which Tomasky refers to from the Wall Street Journal:
      Leaking Oil Well Lacked Safeguard Device

      Perhaps I can’t blame Cheney directly, but certainly indirectly for creating that loose environment where the corporations could get away with whatever they wanted to and cut any corners without fear of any repercussions or consequences.. I believe Cheney set the stage.

  8. muse,
    About 48 years ago I and some fellow Aggies went down to Padre Island and marked off some giant sea turtle nests for protection. It seems like a different age since then. Were we before or after our time?

  9. CBS News Turned Away From Oil Soaked Beaches By BP and the Coast Guard

    When CBS tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, a boat of BP contractors, and two Coast Guard officers, told them to turn around, or be arrested.

    “This is BP’s rules, it’s not ours,” someone aboard the boat said. Coast Guard officials told CBS that they’re looking into it.

    As the Coast Guard is a branch of the Armed Forces, it brings into question how closely the government and BP are working together to keep details of the disaster in the dark.

    What I want to know is who in our government is authorizing BP to use the Coast Guard to try to cover up damning evidence of the severity of this disaster?

  10. Agreed HoR. BP’s interest now is in damage control to protect their reputation. Sea-creatures be damned, there’s a corporation in harms way, that must be paramount to everything else.

    The journalists should have allowed themselves to be arrested to blow this wide open.

  11. This post is linked at Mike’s Blog Roundup at C&L today. Nice going ‘Muse.

    Hey everybody, wash your face and comb your hair, company’s coming!

  12. Good morning!

    So, I open up HuffingtonPost to see them leading with some sad photos of oil in the wetlands.

    Someone needs to get Brit Hume, take him down there and rub his nose in it. Take the BP CEO as well.

    So much as BP wants to keep a lid on this, the story will get out. At least I hope it will get out. Never “misunderestimate” the power of greed in those “people” known as corporations.

  13. How is it even possible for a corporation, even one as gigantic as BP, to use the US Coast Guard as it’s own private police force? THAT is more than a little alarming.. I can see the Coast Guard assisting BP in areas that need assisting, but not as their armed guards. That is just wrong.

    How big and powerful IS BP? I know they have leases to drill, but they don’t OWN the ocean!

  14. Muse,

    My earlier career background is in designing and building triple-redundant safety shutdown systems in the chemical and refining industry. I’m not familiar with the details of the BOP, but the principles and equipment I have 9 years of experience in.

    Now you can’t verify that stuff online: on a blog you can say anything. So here’s the real stuff:


    Look at the Congressional testimony starting with “Congressman Stupak..”

    1. The BOP had a hydraulic leak which may have interfered with its ability to close.
    2. The batteries which powered the system which enabled the hydraulics to work appear to have failed – no batteries, no hydraulic fluid to drive the rams, no close.
    3. BP says that the BOP was signalled to close from the rig before it was evacuated – that is probably true, I’ve seen a couple of eye-witness accounts which seem to confirm it.
    4. The ‘deadman’ systems which are supposed to activate if the rig loses contact with the BOP *probably* fired

    This acoustic trigger is simply that – it is one more way to ask the valve to close, it is not relevant to the failure of the BOP because it is clear that since BP were unable to manually close the valve from the sea bed using the manual overrides that the valve itself had failed, not that any of the multiple control signals had failed.

    As an eye-witness account I have access to stated (paraphrase) “it wouldn’t have mattered if there were a dozen ships with a dozen acoustic triggers on board were floating around there – the blow out would still have occurred – because the valve simply failed to close”.

    Let me explain it in a simple example I used here the other day:

    You have a staircase light with three switches, one on the top floor, one on the ground floor and a handy-dandy ‘clap-on, clap-off’. You want to turn the light on, so you flip the switch on the top floor (the rig). Nothing happens. Then you use your handy ‘clap on clap off’ swtich (the acoustic trigger). Still nothing happens. So you go downstairs and try the other switch (the sea bed manual override). Nothing happens.

    So are all three switches broken? No, the bulb (the vale) failed. That’s 99.9% of the cases. It’s not exactly like that, but close enough.

    The acoustic trigger is just another switch – none of the other three ways to close the valve worked so adding a fourth, the acoustic switch, would have made no difference.

    I knew it was the valve that had failed the moment the ROVs couldn’t stop the flow by manually activating the valve.

    Now in the Congressional testimony, you can see a lot of malfeasance to go around:
    1. Undocumented modifications
    2. Test equipment installed instead of production
    3. Failed components

    That’s the issue that should result in criminal prosecutions.

    Oh and the bypassing of safe operating procedures by removing the mud from the well before verifying that the well was concreted safe? That was very, very bad. Someone should go to prision for that.

    Actually, Halliburton look like the most innocent company here. Ironic huh?

  15. “Perhaps I can’t blame Cheney directly, but certainly indirectly for creating that loose environment where the corporations could get away with whatever they wanted to and cut any corners without fear of any repercussions or consequences.. I believe Cheney set the stage.”

    That is right on.

  16. If I might jump in with a question.

    Firstly, thanks for the info Terry. That makes perfect sense to me, about the acoustic trigger being a moot point in this case.

    Let me ask, what about the basic design of the valve, however. On smaller scales you can have valves that can be designed to fail into the closed position. Where power needs to be applied to hold the valve open, and if power is cut for any reason, the valve reverts back to its closed position. I presume that’s achieved though springs, magnetics and other more passive means.

    Can that sort of thing be done on this scale, with the kind of flow and pressure these wellheads present?

  17. zxbe – that’s right, commonly smaller shutdown valves fail-to-close, by venting air or hydraulic fluid back to the fluid reservoir from the actuator if there is a failure of a control signal (in most cases a DC voltage must be present to open the valve – no voltage means ‘close’).

    With the BOP, it’s more complex (I’ve been reading and talking with a drilling engineer pal). You don’t want a spurious trip all that often, because you’ll keep cutting the pipe, that gets expensive. So they don’t seem to be fail close in the way I have described, but instead rely on many ways to communicate the close signal including some passive ones, with dual batteries to backup rig power in case of failure of power and ensure that the valve closes.

  18. Funy that Cameron Valves don’t appear to have any product information online for their subsea control systems anymore… hmm…

  19. Thanks Terry. I can see where such an arrangment might get expensive if the valve trips closed often due to frequent signal losses or other problems in the control system. But that suggests to me the heart of the problem right there.

    If it’s too problematic to rely upon these control systems to keep a valve open during normal usage; it seems equally problematic to rely upon those same types of control systems to close a valve in case of emergency.

  20. That’s right, you get turned about in your thinking when you want to consider what is the
    ‘normal’ state and the ‘safe’ state, they need a different mindset.

    The various redundancy systems, both logical and physical all combine to create a risk profile. In most shutdown systems I have worked with you need to try really hard to keep the shutdown valves open, any failure or logicall discrepancy in the redundant signals anywhere shuts the valve (but in this case, doesn’t cut the pipe). Some of the online literature talks about ‘availability >99.9%’ meaning the BOP will close when asked 999/1000 times. That’s pretty good.

    The other aspect not touched on is that safe operations should also mean that the BOP is the last-resort safety device and it should *never* be considered to be a device which *has* to be used.

  21. Fishermen Cleaning Gulf Ill From Dispersant

    One fisherman said he felt like he was going to die over the weekend.

    “I’ve been coughing up stuff,” Gary Burris said. “Your lungs fill up.”

    Burris, a longtime fisherman who has worked across the Gulf Coast, said he woke up Sunday night feeling drugged and disoriented.

    “It was like sniffing gasoline or something, and my ears are still popping,” Burris said. “I’m coughing up stuff. I feel real weak, tingling feelings.”

    Marine toxicologist Riki Ott said the chemicals used by BP can wreak havoc on a person’s body and even lead to death.

    Question: How could BP publicly admit this stuff is so toxic, and allow people to handle it occupationally?

    Answer: They couldn’t! If they had, it would have destroyed the argument for using it!

    • HoR, I could cry. Whoever thought it’s going to be turtles only that suffer, think again. They’re killing us all.

    • HoR, I’ve given up on nightmares. We’re living in one. I rather dream of nice things, guess who I dated last night? 😀

  22. I know the name. He played Dr. Wernher von Braun in 1960. Over here he was always billed as ‘Curt’, which would then be mistakenly a short form of Curtis.

    • HoR,that’s the one. I need to have some shut eye now. Let’s see what the night brings 🙂

      See you all tomorrow. Good Night!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s