gulf oil spill
From CNN today:
"It's obvious what's going on at the surface. The big issue is what's trapped in the marsh," [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s chief fisheries scientist Steve] Murawski said.
Today’s “Oil Spill Quote of the Day” is actually more of an “Oil Spill Diagram of the Day.”
The Washington Post recently published a great graphic showing the effects of an oil spill on delicate marshlands. These marshes are crucially important yet often get overlooked. So rather than reading the usual daily quote, go check out the informative image from the Washington Post.
From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:
"We've said since news first broke and the extent of the gulf tragedy became known that it was certainly going to affect how people in the United States and California view offshore oil," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "It's a game-changing event."
Imagine a healthy, beautiful ocean. Now remove the sea turtles, one by one.
Not so healthy anymore, is it?
That’s the gist of the report we released today, Why Healthy Oceans Need Sea Turtles: The Importance of Sea Turtles to Marine Ecosystems. The report describes the vital roles sea turtles play in the ecosystem, and how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is further threatening their ability to fulfill those roles.
As the report outlines, sea turtles provide the following important ecosystem services:
- Maintain healthy seagrass beds through grazing
- Maintain healthy coral reefs by removing sponges when foraging
- Facilitate nutrient cycling by supplying a concentrated source of high-protein nutrients when nesting
- Balance marine food webs by maintaining jellyfish populations
- Provide a food source for fish by carrying around barnacles, algae and other similar organisms
- Increase the rate of nutrient recycling on the ocean floor by breaking up shells while foraging
- Provide habitat for small marine organisms as well as offer an oasis for fish and seabirds in the open ocean
From today's Washington Post:
"The worst case has just happened," [Ellen Hambro, director general of Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency which is currently studying the Deepwater Horizon spill in order to learn from the crisis,] said. "We don't know yet the consequences, environmental or political."
From NOLA.com yesterday:
"Right now all the sponge crabs are out there trying to make babies, and that oil is killing the babies. So even when we can go back to crabbing, how many crabs will we have? No one can tell me that. And that's what's scaring me," [said experienced crab fisherman and Louisiana resident Henry Martinez.]
Our friends at Oceans4Ever are hosting the first ever Summer Sharktakular this week, along with shark blogger extraordinare, David Shiffman. David wrote this guest post for us about the threats facing sharks in the Gulf. Be sure to check out the rest of the Sharktakular this week! - Emily
Many threats facing sharks, such as bycatch and finning, are well known to conservationists. Less well known, but just as serious to some species, are the threats to sharks from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sharks can come into direct contact with oil on the surface, which appears to be happening to whale sharks. These threatened animals, the largest fish in the sea, feed by filtering plankton out of the water. In other words, they swim with their mouths open near the surface, which is a surefire recipe to ingest floating oil.
The estuaries of the northern Gulf are important nurseries for a variety of smaller shark species. Newborn sharks use the shallow waters, safe from predators and full of food, as a safe place to grow up. Oil has reached many of these estuaries, with unknown (but undoubtedly bad) long-term effects on the species that use them. Entire year-classes of some populations may die as their nursery grounds become poisoned.
From CNN on Friday:
"I was happy about it," said [New Orleans resident Michael] Jackson, 50, about the capped well. "But who's to say that cap's going to hold?"
"It still doesn't do anything for our oysters," he said. "What about the marshes? There's no telling how long our oyster beds will be closed up."
Today Oceana and NRDC, in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory, are launching an oil-detecting underwater robot off the Florida Keys as a first line of defense against underwater oil plumes from the Gulf oil spill.
For 25 to 30 days, the robot, a.k.a.Waldo, will travel undersea in the water column, an area that satellite imagery cannot access, gathering data every few seconds and transmitting the information to researchers via satellite every three hours.
If oil is detected, Mote Marine Laboratory will provide the local government with this information so that emergency resources and response plans can be activated to help protect the Keys’ important ecological resources.
You can check out Waldo’s location and data throughout his expedition at Rutgers University’s web site.
From today's Miami Herald:
"We have been slow to develop new technologies to prevent, mitigate and clean up oil spills,'' Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., who drafted the legislation [currently in the House about the federal response to oil spills], said in a statement. "The fact that we are responding to the BP oil spill with basically the same technology that we used with the Exxon Valdez spill 20 years ago pretty much says it all.''