Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BP Needs Reprimand In A Big Way.

A dolphin is found dead on the shore of Queen Bess Island, Louisiana, May 26, 2010. Can you even tell without straining your eyes that thats a dolphin? Crude oil which has been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico for over a month from the sunken BP oil rig Deepwater Horizon has begun to impact many coastal area of the state over the last week.

"The BP oil spill, which has been pouring into the Gulf for over a month, threatens the survival of marine and terrestrial species not only now, but in the long term as well. Similar to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, populations of fish, shellfish, marine mammals, birds and other wildlife that depend on coastal habitat may not recover, even decades later.

Impacts on Mammals
Marine mammals, including West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, and blue whales can come into contact with the oil and inhale harmful fumes when surfacing for air.

Terrestrial and semi-aquatic mammals including river otters, mink and swamp rabbits will lose habitat and food sources as oil washes into coastal wetlands.

Impacts on Birds
Egrets, herons, ibises, roseate spoonbills, brown pelicans and Wilson's plovers (to name just a few) lose buoyancy and their ability to keep warm; suffer skin and eye lesions; and ulcers, pneumonia, liver damage, and other life-threatening conditions from ingesting oil when they try to feed or clean oil from their feathers.

Many ground-nesting shorebirds, including plovers and terns, are at risk of losing their eggs and young.

Millions of migratory birds use the Gulf Coast as a critical stopover point after the exhausting flight across the Gulf of Mexico and will face habitat and food shortages as oil washes ashore.

Impacts on Fish
Yellowfin tuna, blue tuna, blue crabs, sharks, oysters, shrimp and other species lose their ability to fight disease and experience a build-up of contaminants in their bodies over time.

Oil exposure is lethal to fish eggs and larvae that are not yet mobile and cannot escape the oil slick.

Impacts on Reptiles
Reptiles depend on the coast for breeding ground, habitat and food sources. Sea turtles, including the loggerhead and the green turtle, are getting ready to begin their nesting season.

Impacts on Habitat
Ninety percent of all the marine species in the Gulf depend on coastal estuaries at some point in their lives, and most of these estuaries are in Louisiana. Louisiana's estuarine habitat includes salt marshes and barrier islands that sit on the edge of Louisiana's coast, and those will be hit first--and hardest--by the oil spill.

Oil is harder to remove from the highly organic soils that occur in coastal wetlands and marshes.

Oil can kill or reduce growth of marsh grasses, which are a key source of food and cover for wildlife. This vegetation loss will also lead to erosion and contribute to the coast’s already rapid rate of land loss.

Polluted Ecosystem = Polluted Economy
The Gulf Coast states rely heavily on commercial fishing to sustain their local economies. According to NOAA, commercial fisheries brought in a total $659 million in shellfish and finfish in 2008. Just over 3 million people took recreational fishing trips in the Gulf that year as well."

Quoted from NWF.ORG

More information and Photos available here: National Geographic