After the explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon, in the Gulf of Mexico, oil continued to leak into the Gulf for 86 days, impacting surrounding wildlife and environments. On September 19, the U.S. Government declared the leaking well officially dead.
With an estimated 5 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf, and a reported approximate of 600 species affected ' including the endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle, Brown Pelicans, Dolphins, Sperm Whales, Blue fin Tuna, shrimp, fish etc. ' and many of whom were in their reproductive seasons at the time of the spill, it is clear there will be both short and long term impacts to the natural ecosystems of the area.
During the 5 month period when oil continued to leak from the well, the HSI team was busy with efforts to strategically prepare for emergency and long term relief needed for animals and environments affected by the oil spill.
Their focus was on providing assistance to rescue groups dedicated to the treating of oiled wildlife as well as to governmental and non-governmental organizations involved.
Watch the video below to see what is at stake.
Dispatches from HSI on their on ground efforts in the Gulf Coast.
For the second time in a month, HSI's emergency disaster relief team in the U.S. teamed up with local organizations to help ease the burden of overwhelmed Louisiana animal shelters in the wake of the Gulf oil spill. Last Friday, we transported 107 dogs -- medium and large, the most difficult to place with new families -- from nine Louisiana shelters and rescue groups to our shelter partners on the East Coast to find new permanent homes.
As the devastating reports of the BP oil spill and its harmful effects continue, a little good news reinforces some hope for a better future. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by The Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Institute--along with petitions and letters from the public -- BP and the U.S. Coast Guard have agreed to stop allowing endangered sea turtles to be burned alive during surface-oil cleanup operations.
Concern was sparked when news spread that BP was using controlled fires as a method to clean up the oil via dragging together fire-resistant booms and then lighting the enclosed "burn box" on fire. It has been reported that as of July 01, 594 stranded sea turtles had been collected in the Gulf area since the oil spill. Of those, 441 were already dead when they were found.
The Care2 community was quick to react to the news -- with over 12,000 signatures on two petitions demanding BP to stop the torching of sea turtles in the Gulf. A big thank you to all who continue to make efforts to help sea turtles and other victims of the BP oil tragedy. This burning ban will help prevent even more unnecessary deaths.
Reporting by Sharon Young ' member of HSI' s Oil Spill Assessment Team and field director for marine issues at HSUS.
A large disoriented tiger shark swims near a Florida Beach. Dolphins are photographed swimming in an oil slick. Pelicans flounder in thick oil.Wesee these ghastly images in the news every day.The impacts of the recent disaster caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig continue to spread from the largest creatures to the smallest.
As part of the HSI team recently in the Gulfto assess wildlife impacts of the oil, I saw dying hermit crabs and other small creatures struggling in oily tide pools or unable to walk along the beach. Further up the food chain, I saw dolphins frolicking in the bays where some of them spend their entire lives. Although some live offshore, some spend their entire lives resident in a particular bay. Oil entering the only home they know can leave the dolphins no place to go.
The team also visited de-oiling facilities and saw the plight of the oiled birds first hand.It was a study in contrasting beauty and devastation.
The oil affects virtually every kind of marine life in the rich ecosystems of the Gulf, from bottom to top of the food chain. As oil spreads in the water column and oil-consuming microbes proliferate, oxygen is depleted. This oxygen poor environment can drive fish and other marine life into shallow waters in less affected areas.
The recent increase in numbers of deepwater sharks and large fish in coastal waters may be a result of chasing the schools of smaller fish that have moved there to avoid deeper oxygen-depleted waters. Oil also clogs the fragile gills of fish, crabs and other marine residents, preventing them from getting oxygen. The dispersants used to break up the oil are themselves deadly neuro-toxins.
Even air breathing animals such as turtles, dolphins and whales are affected because oil on the surface can contaminate their prey or be inhaled as they rise to breathe. The incidence of dolphins stranding on beaches is elevated all around the Gulf.Hundreds of endangered turtles have died, and now researchers are attempting to capture them at sea before they can swim into the oil. Some of these species such as Kemp' s Ridley turtles are already teetering on the brink of extinction.
On the surface, large floating rafts of a dense seaweed called Sargassum host micro-communities of larval fish, tiny marine creatures, crabs and juvenile sea turtles who feed on the abundant life in the Sargassum mats. These mats can also collect debris and oil and thereby doom the young generations of fish and turtles who start life sheltered in them.Deep below,sub-surface oiling of deep water coral beds that teem with life and are the base of a rich ecosystem is of considerable concern.
The oil continues to spew from the broken well. Dispersants continue to be sprayed. Mats of Sargassum continue to be burned at sea. We may never know the full impact of this disaster.
Though we mourn for the dying birds and dead dolphins and turtles and even the tiny oil-drenched crab, they are simply a visible sign of a destruction that threatens the health of an entire ecosystem. Most of the destruction and loss of life will remain unseen and unaccounted but likely to affect the Gulf ecosystem and the animals and people who depend on it for years to come.