Bp Oil Spill an Expected Threat to Many Animals
The Deepwater Horizon oil leak will endanger numerous animal populations in the Gulf of Mexico.
As the oil leak in the Gulf Coast continues, concerns increase over what animal populations are threatened. The spill that began when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew out on April 20th 2010 quickly became the worst in American history. The extent of damage this may cause over time is unknown, but it is clear that the Gulf Coast ecosystem will suffer severe damage. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as many as 20 national wildlife refuges may be affected by the BP oil spill. These are some of the animals that are in the greatest danger.
Several birds are at risk due to the oil leak. Plovers, sandpipers, oystercatchers, hummingbirds, swallows, and other songbirds will all be impacted due to their migration and nesting periods occurring at the same time as the oil spill. Brown Pelicans, an endangered species, are also currently nesting at a refuge in the Gulf and suffer greatly from oil spills.
- Sea Turtles
Five of the seven remaining species of sea turtles call the Gulf home. The most endangered, the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle, is currently in it’s nesting season. The area of the Deepwater Horizon is also one of few foraging areas for this species.
The many fish, shellfish, oysters, and crabs in the Gulf that are exposed to oil can suffer from numerous cellular, behavioral, and reproductive changes. This will not only affect the populations of these creatures, but the lives of the many local fishermen.
Manatees in the Gulf can be affected by breathing in toxic hydrocarbons while surfacing, according to the EPA. Two whale species may also be affected if oil infiltrates their mouth’s filtering structure. Dolphins and other marine mammals will also be affected if oil comes into contact with their mucous membranes or is ingested.