Unprecedented challenges face Gulf spill responders

8 06 2010

Pelicans have been the species hardest hit by the spill. (photo by Charlie Riedel)

An article in the New York Times highlights the unusual circumstances facing the government and other spill responders along the Gulf coast. Not only is the spill ongoing as a broken pipe continues to spew oil from the ocean floor, but the area threatened by the oil plumes is unusually sensitive. Miles of marshy islands in the Mississippi Delta are at risk of washing away entirely if the marsh grasses stabilizing them are killed off by the oil. And while most of the migratory birds that make stopovers in the Gulf have moved on to northern climes, entire colonies of ground nesting seabirds and shorebirds remain vulnerable on their breeding islands. As we move into hurricane season, the threat of wind and wave tossed oil breaching protective booms around the islands grows.

So far, about 500 live and dead oiled animals (mostly seabirds) have been recovered. Wildlife officials continue to scramble to cover strategic areas of coastline, responding to ever-shifting NOAA projections of where the oil may be headed.

SEANET continues to follow developments from the Gulf, and to share news and resources with you as they become available. And your SEANET blogger promises an uplifting and hopeful post on Thursday.

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