Oil spill update from the field – How many dolphins will the oil spill kill? Because of poor data, we will never know
In Louisiana there is a black hole of dolphin data, populations in many bays haven’t been surveyed for decades and some bays have never been surveyed. The implications are devastating, without accurate numbers for how many dolphins there are now we will never know how many were affected by the spill. I head out on Terrabonne Bay with LSU grad student Allison Manning, the only person in the state studying dolphin populations. Because of the spill, fishing has been banned on this bay. Unfortunately dolphins, which eat pounds of fish each day, didn’t get the memo. We see them everywhere.
Perched atop mangrove branches, fuchsia colored birds with gray-green spatulate bills softly quack. These roseate spoonbills, the only pink wading bird on North America’s southern coasts, were nearly wiped out in the 1800s, victims of plume hunters. They’re still listed as species of special concern in Florida and Louisiana, where the oil spill now threatens to wash into their habitat.!--/end tags-->
Many readers have written to us with questions about the oil spill and wildlife. In the coming weeks, we'll ask experts to answer many of those queries. Greg Butcher, director of bird conservation for the National Audubon Society, tackles the first one: Is there any way to keep birds away from the oil?!--/end tags-->
Oil spill update from the field: One Louisiana town prays for God to save them from oil and hurricanes
It is the first day of hurricane season and on the side of the highway in Buras, folks pray to God to keep them safe from storms and oil. “We’re here to ask God for a miracle,” cries Pastor Max Latham. But with oil still spewing and NOAA predicting as many as seven major hurricanes this year (the norm is 2.3), folks fear something far worst than a standard storm: the black wave.
A week after oil began pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, Melanie Driscoll raced to Venice, Louisiana, to lend her expertise. I first spoke to Driscoll, Audubon’s director of bird conservation for the Louisiana program, on May 1. Now, seven weeks after the disaster began, Driscoll reflects on the challenges of rescuing birds and coordinating an army of volunteers, and the unfortunate negative impacts some efforts to fight the spill are having on birds.
Late last week, one Sanderling's story ended on a beach in western Louisiana. Timmy Vincent found it, dying, its breast matted with oil. It had probably suffered for days, slowly getting weaker, until it could no longer move. Timmy picked it up and called ahead for help, but the tiny life flickered out before it could be rescued.!--/end tags-->