Just a brief note to try and inform everyone of current and future activities related to directed at-sea captures of oiled turtles.
The Marine Mammal/Sea Turtle Group has temporarily suspended at-sea turtle captures beginning the evening of Wed 16 Jun. This is not a cancellation of these operations as has been reported by various sources. This pause is required for three specific reasons:
- Expected weather patterns will likely not allow such operations (focused 10-40 mi offshore) to be conducted safely and effectively;
- Personnel involved in the capture operations require an extended (at least 3 day) rest period to ensure safe practices and to allow the re-supply of vessels; and
- Lead staff involved in the at-sea operations, in concert with group leadership, must spend some time strategically planning for the most effective means to continue operations to collect oiled turtles.
Currently, a number of options are being pursued logistically from within the Unified Command to be started as soon as possible. These may include imbedding dedicated capture teams within skimmer and in-situ burn units and/or expanding at-sea assets by developing a specific “turtle capture task force” within the Operations Section. These operations will allow for more complete activities without the associated logistical challenges that currently exist within the existing at-sea operations.
The at-sea turtle capture efforts have expanded throughout this response by a measured, logical approach to increasing activities based on needs and animals at risk. This approach has reaped great rewards, allowing the capture of many oiled turtles that would have otherwise perished. By temporarily suspending operations, we can more fully develop a comprehensive plan which will have greater results as this spill continues to unfold.
Please let others know that our group is dedicated to collecting and caring for these wildlife as best as we can. I will keep everyone informed as the plans progress on this front. Thank you.
- Mike Ziccardi