Monday, April 20, 2015
The Toll on Wildlife from the Gulf of Mexico BP Oil Spill
Between 800,000 and one million sea birds have died from oil exposure in the Gulf of Mexico since 2010. Entire seabird populations have suffered from major die-offs. Oil related deaths include 12 percent of brown pelicans (over 200,000 have been exposed to oil), almost one third (32 percent) of northern gulf laughing birds and 13 percent of royal turns. A total of 20,000 Kemp's turtles and 60,000 Ridley turtles died in 2010.
Five times the normal rate of lung disease have been observed in bottlenose dolphins and a total of 1000 dolphins have been found stranded between 2010 and 2015.
Under the water a number of species were impacted including oysters and sea grass which provide food and habitat for a wide range of aquatic life. There has been an 85 percent reduction in the diversity of northern gulf seaweed habitats. Species that depend on this seaweed include shrimps, lobsters and crabs.
In the two years following the disaster there was a 50 percent drop in oysters and 10 square miles of sea grass were adversely impacted.
The importance of the gulf oil spill on fish species is important because two thirds of fish species that live in the area of the spill are found only in the gulf. As few as 50 Brydes whales are thought to be left in the gulf and the calves of this species are particularly vulnerable to the dispersant used to break-up the spill. Dispersants are also thought to have adverse health impacts on Sperm Whales and other species
To this day fish species continue to suffer from disruptions to their growth, development and reproduction. Some fish species were found to be covered in lesions due to the spill.
Heart defects and other morphological abnormalities have been found Atlantic bluefin, yellowfin tunas and an amberjack species. Swordfish, marlin, mackerel and other Gulf species may also suffer from similar impacts.
It will take years if not decades to understand the full scope on the impacts.
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