Just a mere ten days after the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Planet Earth has taken yet another hit thanks to the recent BP oil spill.
Though it’s still unclear just how badly wildlife along the coast has been affected, what is certain is that the timing for this disaster could not have been worse. This is peak spawning and nesting season for many species of birds, fish, turtles and other marine mammals and many of these creatures have just prepared their breeding and nesting areas right near the affected coastal areas.
Following are 7 of the beautiful, majestic creatures facing possible extinction due to the oil spill.
7. North Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna
Bluefin tuna in Atlantic Ocean
Already heading towards extinction, blue fin tuna travel across the Atlantic to spawn in the Gulf of Mexico between mid-April and mid-June.
The health problems these animals face are heartbreaking to say the least:
- hypothermia and drowning of birds.
- hypothermia in some seal pups as the oil destroys insulating fur.
- damage to the airways of birds and animals.
- damage to animal immune systems.
Image: flirt 321_209
6. Sea Turtles
The Gulf region is where five of the world’s seven sea turtles live, migrate and breed.
Here are some more health problems that all affected animals will have to face:
- interruption of breeding and fouling of breeding grounds.
- thinner bird and turtle egg shells and also damage to fish larvae, causing deformities.
- damage to sea grass beds and other shelter/feeding areas.
- tainting of algae, which perform a vital role in waterway ecosystems.
Image: Animal Space
The grassbeds south of the Chandeleur Islands, which sit very close to this spill, are a known spawning and nursing area for a number of species of sharks.
Image: Bridget & Dave
Not only does the oil pose an immediate threat, the toxins released into the air threaten these marine mammals, who need to surface and breathe.
3. Brown Pelican
The Brown Pelican, which serves as the state bird of Louisiana, has had a difficult time with storms over the past few seasons and only came off the endangered species list a year ago.
Image: bitterjug, Flickr
The coastal waters around the very tip of Louisiana’s boot-shaped coast are home to some of the most productive oyster farms in the country. Oils and hydrocarbons are toxic to oysters.
1. Migratory songbirds
About 96 species of neo-tropical songbirds like warblers, orioles, buntings, flycatchers and swallows make a 500-mile journey without a pit stop across the Gulf of Mexico. The next two weeks mark the height of their migration as they travel north from Central and South America to breed in North America. The smoke from controlled burns to mitigate the oil spill could affect the migration, but the impacts will be difficult to monitor.