As Dead Animals Pile Up, BP Tries to Wipe Up Oil Slick With Paper Towels
June 21, 2010 11:30 AM
(Source: Mother Jones)
Dead sea creatures are washing ashore, including endangered sea turtles and dolphins. This is one of the dolphin corpses that washed ashore.
(Source: Mother Jones)
Meanwhile, offshore, live dolphins are getting dangerous close to beaching themselves in an effort to escape the toxic spill.
BP is trying to clean up the spill by dumping "paper towels" -- special oil absorbant paper-based pads -- on the beach. BP and government officials are reportedly banning the media from unauthorized visits to coastal parks.
(Source: Mother Jones)
Dolphins, sea turtles, and sea birds are dying from the spill; as are local businesses
Marine scientists following wildlife in The Gulf of Mexico say they are witnessing a bizarre and perhaps unprecedented
exodus of wildlife
. The creatures are fleeing the thick layers of oil and dispersants that are washing ashore from the wreck of BP's
oil rig that in late April
exploded and began spilling oil
into the Gulf.
Dolphins and whales, who can suffer organ damage, brain damage, fertility issues, and even death from exposure to the toxic vapors, are swimming into shallow waters, putting themselves in danger of being beached. Meanwhile, m
, crabs, rays, small fish, and oil-drenched sea birds are fleeing into the swamps surrounding the Gulf Coast.
Unfortunately the overcrowding may result in the creatures dying anyways from lack of oxygen or being picked off by hungry predators. But the animals have little choice. States Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist, "A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable."
So far 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals (dolphins and whales) have died as a result of the spill. There have been conflicting reports on the death tolls; some estimates from wildlife officials this week (such as a Monday morning interview aired on National Public Radio) claim much higher totals of dead sea birds -- as many as 2,000.
The deaths are tragic, but still have yet to approach the loss of life that resulted when the
spilled its cargo of oil off the coast of Alaska in 1989. That spill killed an estimated 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters.
Wildlife aren't the only thing dying in the region. Scores of local businesses that rely on tourism, seafood, or boating are also also collapsing or close to collapse.
Under pressure from President Obama
, BP has set up a compensation fund to pay off those who lost business, but it is not clear yet how fully or quickly claims are being filled.
Meanwhile an interesting twist has come in the cleanup attempts. As BP waits for the completion of a lengthy relief well drilling operation, it has reportedly resorted to dropping oil absorbant paper-based pads on the shore that its workers refer to as "paper towels".
reporter Mac McClelland was the first to
of the unusual approach.
Some (such as the anchors on NPR's Friday "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me") have criticized the fact that BP is cutting down trees to clean up the marine disaster. Perhaps the use of "paper towels" shouldn't come as a surprise, though -- in the past BP has compared plugging the leaking well to
plugging up a toilet
Another point raised by McClelland is that BP contractors and government officials with state Department(s) of Wildlife and Fisheries have cordoned off the sea shore at wildlife shores and manned it with security guards to try to prevent reporters from unauthorized exploration the scene. According to NPR radio, when contacted the officials claimed that they were indeed allowing reporters to check out the shore, but you merely had to apply for permits. They say that unauthorized access could endanger the cleanup. McClelland obviously gained access by other means, though -- his kayak.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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