Scientists warns that more than 600 species are at risk from the deadly oil spill, including the blue fin tuna, dolphins, whales, oysters, shrimp, birds and reptiles. As the oil slick continues to spread, it also threatens the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida as well as Louisiana. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, up to 20 National Wildlife reserves could be affected by the oil spill. However, biologists are increasingly alarmed for wildlife offshore, where the damage from the spill can be invisible but still deadly. And they caution that because of the fluidity between onshore and offshore marine communities, the harm taking place deep at sea will come back to haunt the shallows, whether or not they are directly hit by the slick.
Few animal casualties have been reported, but the planes of 'National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration' recorded dolphins and turtles in areas covered by oil.
Two birds, a Brown Pelican and a Northern Gannet, were saved by rescue workers. Fortunately two birds are in good condition after being treated by the members of International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). Rescue groups, mainly volunteers are in full swing trying to save as many animals as they can. "There's no way to know how many birds have been oiled because the slick is so big and offshore," says Larry Schweiger, CEO and president of the National Wildlife Federation. "When oil collides with wildlife," he added "oil always wins."
The worst of the all is, this catastrophe is hitting the gulf at its most sensitive time of the year - when sea turtles and commercially important species of fish and shrimp are spawning, and many of the bird species including the Brown Pelican, state bird of Louisiana, starts to breed. According to BirdLife International, Brown pelicans and beach nesting Terns and Gulls, have already started there breeding season. Beach nesting shorebirds, Marsh birds and large wading birds such as Spoonbill, Ibises, Herons, and Egrets are also in danger. Migratory song birds and shorebirds could also be affected as their return trip of migration has already started.
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Photos: International Bird Rescue Research Center