Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Gulf Oil Spill - How Many Animals Are Affected?

By Alina Niemi
You may have seen footage of birds covered in oil. Animal rescue groups in the area of the Gulf Oil Spill are working daily to clean and save the animals. But how many animals are we talking about? One dozen? One hundred? One thousand? Here are the real numbers.
Which Gulf oil spill animals are affected?
Bird species include royal terns, Caspian terns, birds that frequent the marshes, such as mottled ducks, clapper and black rails, seaside sparrows, and birds who build nests along the ocean shores, like American oyster catchers and Wilson's plovers.
Birds that live on the water are heavily affected by the water pollution. These include ducks, loons and grebes. Those that feed on the water, such as pelicans, gulls, terns, and herons are also susceptible. Even birds of prey, like bald eagles and ospreys are at risk.
Marine mammals, including dolphins, whales, otters, manatees, seals and sea lions, breathe and ingest the oil, causing poisoning, and it covers their skin and fur. Sea turtles breathe the oil and eat food covered in it. It reduces their health over time, making them more susceptible to illness and death.
Other reptiles, such as snakes and land turtles, can also be affected by the sea pollution. They rely on other animals for food, and if those animals have been covered in oil or poisoned, and the reptiles eat them, they can then be in danger as well.
How many animals are affected?
To give you an idea of the numbers, here is the data from just one day, August 9, 2010. These numbers show the results from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and various rehabilitation centers in the Gulf area.
These are the numbers of animals collected for August 9, 2010:
Birds collected alive: 15
Birds collected dead: 78
Sea turtles collected alive: 9
Sea turtles collected dead: 2
Mammals (including dolphins) collected alive: 0
Mammals (including dolphins) collected dead: 5
Other reptiles collected alive: 0
These are the TOTAL number of animals injured or dead so far (as of August 9, 2010):
Total birds collected alive: 1869
Total birds collected dead: 3902
Total sea turtles collected alive: 503
Total sea turtles collected dead: 517
Total mammals (including dolphins) collected alive: 0
Total mammals (including dolphins) collected dead: 71
Total other reptiles collected alive: 1
It's hard to imagine so many animals being injured, and so sad to think of the thousands so far who have died from the water pollution in the Gulf oil spill. Fortunately, there are rescue organizations in the area working around the clock to help the animals and clean up the mess that others have made.
How can you make a difference?
Learn about a creative way you can help Gulf animals. See the Ripple Sketch program at
Alina Niemi - EzineArticles Expert Author
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