It's a race to the death, and for once the odds are on a turtle — but this is no animal fight or cruel game. It's the sad and possibly inevitable calm before a storm of extinctions caused by the immense oil spill currently ravaging the Gulf of Mexico, and an online gambling website is letting people profit from the tragedy.
The New York Times reports that the gambling website PaddyPower.com placed odds on which species would be the first to go belly-up forever because of impacts from the spill.
The Kemp's Ridley turtle, an endangered species that migrates along the coastline from Mexico to Florida, is seen as the most likely winner, with a $5 bet likely to bring back $9 if it's listed as extinct.
"We kind of have a very simple philosophy at Paddy Power — within reason if there is a very newsworthy event that are people are talking about, people should be allowed to back up their opinion with some cash," Ken Robertson, a company spokesman, told The New York Times.
But the misfortune of animals isn't the only oil spill-related event you can bet on. Paddy Power is also taking bets for the next CEO of BP — assuming that the current top exec, Tony Hayward, is bound to resign or get fired. Iain Conn, the company's current executive director, is the odds-on favorite at 3-1.
As news comes that BP's "top kill" attempt to stop the leak has failed, scientists and conservationists fear the worst for the many threatened species that call the Gulf of Mexico home.
Atlantic bluefin tuna will need special attention to prevent devastating losses, and the spill may also undue years of work to get the brown pelican off the endangered species list.
The Gulf oil spill could "prove to be a sort of tipping point in the life of a population like the Gulf of Mexico sperm whales. We just don't really know yet if that's how it plays out," Ocean Conservancy director of conservation science Stan Senner told The Miami Herald.