The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is taking its toll on the region’s wildlife: brown pelicans, sea turtles, several species of fish, and now dolphins have been found dead.
The National Marine Fisheries Service reported today finding six dead dolphins in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama since May 2nd. Officials are saying the deaths could be related to the oil spill or may be due to natural deaths from calving. They are currently testing tissue samples to determine if oil pollution was a cause of death. Dolphins have been observed swimming in oil-stained waters off of Louisiana.
To date 38 individual sea turtles have been found dead, though researchers have not yet determined how many died due to the oil spill or perhaps other causes, such as ingestion of plastics or bycatch from fishers.
A Brown Pelican is being washed at a Fort Jackson, Louisiana rescue center. It was picked up in one of the remote islands in Southern Louisiana by the USFWS. The bird is in good condition. Photo courtesy of Tri-State Bird Rescue and International Bird Rescue Research Center.
One bright side is that the impact of the oil spill hasn’t brought in as many injured or dead birds as rescuers have expected.
“This is the most unique spill we’ve been in, in the sense that there is a large amount of oil sitting out there that keeps flowing from the ground but it hasn’t made this massive impact on birds yet,” Jay Holcomb, Director of International Bird Rescue Research Center. “The good thing is [that] it’s given us time to set-up centers. […] However, we know that the potential could be really great and catastrophic if it impacts the nesting islands where all the pelicans have babies right now. But we are in a waiting pattern and caring for the few birds we have while we see what happens.”
The International Bird Research Center along with Tri-State Bird Rescue has to date found and treated seven oiled birds.
The oil is now starting to reach the shoreline. Officials confirmed today that ‘tar balls’—blobs of oil—that appeared on Monday on a beach at South Pass in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana are from the BP spill.
A new poll by the AP today shows that despite the massive oil spill—which may prove one of the largest environmental disasters in Us history—a majority of Americans still approve of increasing coastal drilling. Fifty percent said they approve of increasing coastal drilling efforts, while 38 percent oppose it.
The disaster started when a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Killing eleven workers, the explosion also left oil leaking from a drill hole over a mile below the surface. With an estimated 200,000 gallons leaking per day, efforts to stop the oil spill have to date failed.
The US consumes more oil than any other country in the world. In 2007 the US consumed over 20 million barrels of oil everyday: nearly three times as much as the number two consumer, China. For decades the US has focused on producing more oil instead of using oil more efficiently and lowering consumption.
(05/06/2010) Who is responsible for the great environmental disaster arising from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? As the country reels from the sheer magnitude of the accident, the media has rightly pointed the finger at BP. Yet, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the role of Ken Salazar and his derelict Department of Interior, a government entity which, in theory, regulates offshore oil drilling.
(05/04/2010) America, we deserve the oil spill now threatening the beautiful coast of Louisiana. This disaster is not natural, like the earthquake that devastated Haiti or tsunami that swept Southeast Asia in 2006; this disaster is man-made, American-made in fact, pure and simple. So, while in the upcoming weeks and months—if things go poorly—we may decry the oil-drenched wildlife, the economic loss for the region, the spoiled beeches, the wrecked ecosystems, the massive disaster that could take decades if not longer to recover from, we, as Americans, cannot think smugly that we are somehow innocent of what has happened. You play with fire: you will get burned. You drill for oil 1,500 meters below the surface of the ocean, you open up oil holes across the surface of your supposedly-beloved landscape, sooner or later there will be a spill, and sometimes that spill will be catastrophic.
(05/03/2010) Even though they don’t stop over in the Gulf of Mexico, many migrating songbirds could be impacted by the catastrophic oil spill, warns the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). The threats to marine and coastal birds have been well-outlined during the past few days, however birds flying high above the spill could also be vulnerable.