Thursday, June 17, 2010

Animals at risk as oil spill

Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some troubling phenomena. The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted. Already, scientists say they're seeing more sharks and dolphins in unusually shallow waters.Rescuing birds and cleaning off the oil from their bodies only serves to keep them alive temporarily.Cleaning birds with detergents strips away the natural oil which acts as a protective water proof layer for sea birds.

Seabirds are strongly affected by oil spills.The bird then eats the oil to clean its feathers and poisons itself. If workers have found sea birds that are not dead because of oil, they will take the birds to a cleaning center or captivity where they are kept in a facility because they can not live in the wild on their own. Many people don’t realize all the animals in the ocean that oil spills affect. When hundreds of plankton die because of oil, that specie of animal may become extinct. Then, fish won’t be able to eat the plankton, so they will become extinct. A killer whale could then become extinct because it can’t eat the fish. The oil spills can damage the entire food chain in the area.

Day by day, scientists in boats tally up dead birds, sea turtles and other animals, but the toll is surprisingly small given the size of the disaster. Figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died. Researchers said there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll such as many can't be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or getting scavenged by other marine life, scientists can locate only a fraction of the animals and large numbers of birds are dying deep in the Louisiana marshes where they seek refuge.

Nils Warnock, a wildlife specialist with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at the University of California says, "The public demands that something be done. It's heart-wrenching—you see this totally oil-covered animal. The only way you can see that they're alive is that their little eye blinks. That kills me every time."

Past studies suggest that oil drenched birds have a high death rate.German biologist Silvia Gaus contended that studies show that more than 99 percent of rehabilitated birds will die as a result of oil exposure, leading to kidney and liver damage. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into Louisiana marshes, never to be seen again.

Source: rescuers-clean-decision

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