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National Aquarium’s Commitment to Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico


A statement from Executive Director, David Pittenger and Deputy Director for Biological Programs, Dr. Brent Whitaker: “We believe the stakes are too high not to invest the time and resources to help as many turtles as possible. Truly, every sea turtle counts.”

You can’t go far without hearing about the oil spill disaster still unfolding in the Gulf, and it has been deeply disturbing to watch as gallons and gallons of oil are being pushed into that irreplaceable ecosystem each second. Because you are a friend of the National Aquarium, we wanted to share with you what the Aquarium is doing and to ask for your continued commitment and support.

As an active member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network we are closely connected to the Federal, State, and local agencies and non-governmental entities responding to this disaster. We have informed them that we are willing and able to lend assistance, and we are receiving daily updates on the situation. Animals and oil are coming ashore now in significant numbers and response efforts must be coordinated, far-reaching and long term.

We have been notified to expect requests for help with the sea turtles injured by the oil in the Gulf. This man-made disaster has the potential to be devastating to these fragile animals. There are only seven species of sea turtles in the world, and all of them are endangered or threatened, at risk of being wiped out completely. Five of these vulnerable species frequent the Gulf of Mexico to breed and to lay their eggs. We believe the stakes are too high not to invest the time and resources to help as many turtles as possible. Truly, every sea turtle counts.

To that end, we have been assessing our facilities and are working with our partner, Mote Marine Laboratory, in Sarasota, Florida, which has wonderful marine mammal and sea turtle rehabilitation facilities, so we are prepared to take in animals. Our greatest strength is our highly talented corps of committed staff and volunteers, and we have compiled a list of people with the needed skills and willingness to help with turtle rescue. Mote shares our commitment to the conservation of precious marine resources, so we are poised to make major contributions together.

Many of you have contacted us asking how you can help. As we all brace for the long road ahead in the Gulf, we write to enlist your help as a partner, and to ask that you please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue program. Beyond this disaster, we remain committed to caring for stranded animals in our own mid-Atlantic region, like the four rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtles we currently have in-house, and we expect that program to remain busy. Your contribution helps us continue that important work while we assist with the catastrophic results of this oil spill in the Gulf.

We will continue to send updates about our animal rescue work in the Gulf and around the region. Thank you for being part of the National Aquarium community, and for your support.

As this disaster continues to unfold, updates will be posted on