Fox News devoted two segments to a "sea turtle hospital," representing a change in tone from years of attacking a turtle conservation program. The network has frequently dismissed climate change, which poses a serious threat to turtles and other reptiles.
In two separate segments Friday, Fox & Friends reported on a North Carolina sea turtle rescue center, which mends loggerhead and green turtles injured by run-ins with boat propellers and other accidents. Fox News reporter Anna Kooiman noted that the turtles are "ambassadors for ocean conservation as a whole." Following footage of a turtle being released into the ocean after a rehab stint, Fox & Friends co-anchor Steve Doocy concluded, "this story has a happy ending."
Yeah, maybe not. While the center's efforts are admirable, and boat accidents and ocean debris do take a huge toll on sea turtles, these segments, like all Fox News coverage related to turtles over the last five years, ignored a much more systemic danger: climate change.
At least Fox News was sympathetic this time. Until now, the network's favorite turtle topic has been an allegedly wasteful Florida project designed to help freshwater turtles and other wildlife safely cross U.S. Highway 27 and avert dangerous roadway accidents. Fox News programs commented on the "turtle tunnels" 29 times in the last five years, most often in unabashedly negative terms because they were backed by funds from the 2009 federal stimulus package. The project was finished earlier than some opponents predicted and came in under budget, a fact that Fox News never mentioned.
Furthermore, a Nexis search shows that the network has not mentioned the effects of climate change on sea turtles or freshwater turtles in the past five years, even as mounting scientific evidence shows that eroding beaches, changing ocean currents, and other effects of climate change are a serious concern for them and reptiles at-large.
Many of Fox News' turtle mentions used them to mock environmental concerns generally, as when comedian Jim Norton advised BP-oiled sea turtles "go, swim. You got the whole ocean," on a 2010 edition of Hannity.