The Gulf of Mexico is one of the world’s biggest seafood grounds. Like your fish, shrimp, and crab with oil? The first of the oil slick is reaching the Delta refuge today after fisherman attempted to collect as much shrimp, crab, grouper, and the like yesterday that went well into the night. The Delta is a mix of salt and freshwater, habitat to 40% of U.S. wetlands, and some 400 species of wildlife including “endangered species like American alligator, brown pelican, Arctic peregrine falcon and piping plover, tens of thousands of wintering waterfowl with numbers peaking during the SPRING and nesting with their young especially large numbers of wading birds that will be up to their bodies in oil, while literally thousands more shorebirds will be on the tidal mudflats and deltaic splays.” The grasses in the marshy delta will die back from the oil. There are also numerous furbearers and game mammals as year-round residents. And let’s not forget giant sea turtles. We better not hear from huge hunt clubs in the next few years lobbying to hunt in this area after what we’ve already done to the animals here.
Also according to fws.gov/delta there are a plenty more critters in peril:
Commonly observed species include greater and lesser yellowlegs, long-billed dowitchers, dunlins, western sandpipers, avocets, black-necked stilts, Wilson’s plovers, killdeer and willets.
Raptors are a common sight on Delta NWR. The most commonly observed species include American kestrels, northern harriers, red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures. Black vultures, Cooper’s hawks, merlins, red-shouldered hawks and sharp-shinned hawks have also been seen on the refuge. Ospreys are common winter visitors to the refuge.
Untold numbers of passerine birds (songbirds) utilize the refuge as a resting and staging area during the spring and fall migrations. Deer are frequently observed by the refuge staff on the natural pass banks, manmade spoil banks, and the marshes associated with these features. Swamp rabbits are found over much of the refuge, and populations appear to be stable. A number of furbearing species make their homes on Delta NWR. The most abundant of these is the nutria.
The marshes and waterways of the Delta NWR support a diversity of fish species. Speckled trout, redfish, flounder, blue crabs and shrimp are important saltwater species found on the refuge. Catfish, largemouth bass, and various sunfish species are found in the freshwater areas of the refuge. Delta NWR is an extremely important nursery area for both fresh and saltwater fish species.
We all know the ramifications of giant oil spills by now. I blogged not long ago that the devastation of the Exxon Valdez spill is still evident in some areas. And since an earlier oil spill from a leaking pipeline fouled 160 sq. miles of this fragile Delta the very beginning of April that went largely unreported, some critters in this area are already experiencing a double whammy.
What really bothers me is the lack of reporting on just how much drilling goes on in the Gulf both past and present because according to the same fws.gov website, “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services or USFWS Managment Goals for the wildlife refuge soon to be unundated with oil is “Waterfowl habitat management, marsh restoration and management and oversight of oil and gas development and production.” There’s that word “management” again. Is this anything like the management of wolves, better described as an unwarranted, unscientific slaughter on behalf of the cattle industry, or the management of our mustang horses, another unwarranted, unscientific slaughter on behalf of the cattle industry?
The USFWS is a department within the Department of the Interior headed by Ken Salazar. It looks like the USFWS does more good for industry than for our wildlife like wolves and horses and is more and more reminiscent of the Bush administration not an administration that seeks to base its decisions on science. In this case of not one but two oil spills in the Delta Wildlife Refuge this month, maybe the USFWS also serves the oil industry more than the wildlife its name infers, “service to our FISH AND WILDLIFE,” because there are an awful lot of rigs in the gulf.
I was amazed. Look:
Is it just me or are we a tad overdone on the drilling? Fisherman stated that if you go out at night it looks like a major city out there full of lights from all the rigs. We only have so many coastlines from which we can get domestic oil and I’m sorry the Arctic is undergoing enough with ice melt, compressed land rising up rapidly resulting in wet bogs drying out making wildfires more and more likely in Alaska, and not to mention the marine life that is adversely affected by it all.
For those that argue man isn’t affecting earth enough to cause environmental problems—this oil spill is a huge environmental problem that doesn’t go away overnight and affects generations of wildlife and habitat. According to sciencepoles.org: “The CYP1A levels were unequivocally higher in areas polluted by the Exxon Valdez spill than in other nearby areas. The study shows that wildlife in a large spill area has been continuously exposed to residual oil, decades after the event happened. Future research and action plans will therefore need to acknowledge the extended lifetime of residual oil and the associated impacts on wildlife.” A med.gov website states: “Fish cytochrome P4501A (CYP1A) is a widely accepted environmental biomarker, detecting biological effects of several xenobiotic groups present in aquatic environments, when evaluated in target tissues of a biosensor species.”
Oil spills don’t just happen in the U.S.; worldwide oil spills have fouled plenty. Remember, “What happens to the beast, happens to the man” my favorite quote by Chief Seattle? Think twice about the environment. Everything we do affects generations of humans down the line too. We are after all part of the animal chain.
About CYP1A levels:
Watch some of the really good videos coming from ABC News GMA where Sam Champion has been reporting about the spill and the whole Delta area.