Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FTV 1/17/2012 OOPS-Oil Spills

The Gulf Coast oil spill is the "worst environmental disaster the US has faced", according to White House energy adviser Carol Browner. The spill was by far the largest in US history, almost 20 times greater than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Factors such as petroleum toxicity, oxygen depletion and the use of Corexit dispersant are expected to be the main causes of damage. Eight U.S. national parks are threatened.

More than 400 species that live in the Gulf islands and marshlands are at risk, including the endangered Kemp's Ridley turtle, the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle, and the Leatherback Turtle. In the national refuges most at risk, about 34,000 birds have been counted, including gulls, pelicans, roseate spoonbills, egrets, terns, and blue herons.

A comprehensive 2009 inventory of offshore Gulf species counted 15,700. The area of the oil spill includes 8,332 species, including more than 1,200 fish, 200 birds, 1,400 molluscs, 1,500 crustaceans, 4 sea turtles, and 29 marine mammals. As of November 2, 2010, 6,814 dead animals had been collected, including 6,104 birds, 609 sea turtles, 100 dolphins and other mammals, and 1 other reptile.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cause of death had not been determined as of late June. According to NOAA, since January 1, 2011, 67 dead dolphins have been found in the area affected by the oil spill, with 35 of them premature or newborn calves. The cause is under investigation.

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