Sunday, June 27, 2010
The BP oil spill in the Gulf has been going on for approximately 70 days, and it shows no sign of slowing down. I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed a decrease in the amount of news coverage surrounding the spill in recent days, and I am not surprised. The public tends to get tired of the same stories re-told over and over, which is why I am going to discuss something that has not been widely discussed.
How exactly does oil affect animal life?
One of the best ways to describe the effects of oil on animals is to discuss some of the most documented casualties, which are birds and mammals.
Birds are some of the best known casualties of an oil spill, and I am sure we have all seen the pictures and videos of the oil soaked pelican struggling to remove itself from a pile of oil.
Through contact with the oil, birds and mammals will lose the insulation provided by the air pockets beneath their feathers or fur. This can result in them dying from hypothermia, or even weigh the animals down so much that they cannot remain buoyant in the water and drown.
When birds and mammals get covered in oil, they will try to clean it off, which causes them to ingest and/or inhale oil and coat their throats and sinuses. This alone can kill them, but the chemicals within the oil will most likely cause cancer in various organs to form and ravish the animals from the inside out.
Predators are also affected, as they will eat the oil covered animals, and most likely die themselves. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, avian and mammalian scavenger populations can be severely damaged by an oil spill.
Fish are another casualty from an oil spill, as they can be impacted through the gills, or the oil could be ingested through their prey. Also, since fish spawn and mate in the water, oil can cause detrimental growth in both adults and juveniles.
The oil spill is a global disaster that deserves not to be pushed aside to make room for "newer news."
Not all my posts will be as negative and depressing as this, but this is something that I needed to get off my chest for a while. So, thank you for listening, and I promise the post next week will not be as sad. I hope you will join me in exploring the Wonderful World of Animals here on LabSpaces!
Information provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
To find out how you can help the oil spill clean up, please check out the website National Wildlife Federation
or the World Wildlife Fund
You also may want to look at this interesting website, entitled Daily Dead Birds
, which has a counter updated daily on the amount of dead birds, sea turtles and mammals from the Gulf oil spill.