Wildlife still struggling five years after Deepwater Horizon

A new report from the National Wildlife Federation shows that sea turtles, dolphins, fish and birds are still suffering from the fallout of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as the five-year anniversary of the disaster approaches.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster may not be making headlines anymore, but the many different species of wildlife that call the Gulf of Mexico home are still struggling after the massive blowout and resulting oil spill on 20 April 2010.

“The science is clear that this is not over—and sea turtles, dolphins, fish, and birds are still suffering from the fallout,” announced Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

The report documents the effects of the disaster on twenty species of wildlife. Findings include: dolphins on the Louisiana coast were found dead in 2014 at four times historic rates; nests of the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle have declined since 2010; abnormal development in many species of fish – including Bluefin and yellowfin tuna – due to oil exposure; up to one-third of laughing gulls in the northern Gulf died from the oil spill; coral colonies in the Gulf show signs of oil damage; and sperm whales spend less time foraging in the area around the wellhead.

The impact on wildlife species isn’t restricted to the states immediately surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in three Midwestern states: Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

“Wildlife from sperm whales to marsh ants are still feeling the effects of the disaster,” said Ryan Fikes, the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf of Mexico restoration scientist.

The conservation organisation wants BP to be held fully accountable so that all fines and penalties can be used to start restoring the Gulf.

A federal judge will soon decide the case against BP and the other companies for violations of the Clean Water Act. A law passed in 2012 known as the RESTORE Act will send this money back to the five Gulf states for restoration projects.


Photo credit: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s office

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