Friday, 28 January 2011

Gulf Oil Spill Animals - Where Are They Now?

Having been removed from the endangered species list just six months before the spill, brown pelicans continue to face a challenging new environment. Heavily oiled herons, egrets, pelicans and other water fowl can't fly, easily become hypothermic and run the risk of organ failure. Although Sunday prayers may sooth our consciences, without proper funding, the future for many Gulf species looks questionable.
On Nat Geo Wild's documentary, "Saved from the Spill", Dr. Mireya Mayor follows the Gulf spill legacy. While oil disbursements reduce the chance of oil sticking to animals, environmentalist fear contamination as bottom dwellers such as crabs, lobsters, other crustaceans, rays and more feed where oil and chemical disbursements settle.
Without intervention to capture, clean and rehabilitate sea turtles, water fowl and other native/migratory species, it is unlikely they can survive. Although public support has been great, as with any catastrophe, people forget fast. Once the issue is no longer in the news, funding quickly dries up.
Sea turtles are particularly vulnerable with the Kemp's ridley turtle down to less than 5,000 members. Despite a massive effort to relocate 70,000 loggerhead eggs, once oil is ingested, these animals quickly fall into distress. Unfortunately for them, residual oil slicks look almost identical to one of their most common food sources.
The effects of the Gulf disaster stretch beyond what we normally see. Although the oceans may look cleaner, settling debris, habitat loss in nesting grounds and a less successful spawning have depleted the next generation of aquatic and semi-aquatic life in the area. With an estimated 31 whale and dolphin species surviving in or migrating throughout this zone, some of the most spectacular and threatened animals on the planet including whale sharks, orcas, sperm whales and bluefin tuna depend on this area for survival. Once spawned, newborns stand far less chance of surviving to adulthood in these contaminated waters.
At an average cost of $600 to $1,000 just to rescue, clean and rehabilitate a single bird, insufficient funding and logistical problems make it impossible to save every distressed animal. In some cases, it is simply not practical to capture, clean and nurse an animal back to health. Trying to rescue distressed birds in nesting grounds can disrupt fledglings, contaminate other bird nests and possibly even cause some nests to be abandoned completely.
In a race against time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, state and local authorities, concerned volunteers and privately sponsored groups continue to do what they can. But they need help. While some may use the excuse that they are "just animals", what goes around comes around and that includes what ends up on our plates, vitamins we intake, shampoos, cosmetics and most of all, the collective consciences that supposedly make us better as humans.
Robert Haskell is a contributing author and manager of consumer affairs for http://www.officesalesusa.comwhich offers a great selection of Earth-friendly products that are safer for the environment includingbiodegradable trash bags, corn starch utensils, recycled products and more.