Tag Archive: wildlife



07.06.2010

Today, I attended an oiled bird rehabilitation.  Never in my life, did I think I could experience such polar opposite emotions for what I witnessed.  On one hand, I was heartbroken for the oiled wildlife and the troubles that they have endured because of this man-made spill. On the other hand, I was deeply grateful that these birds made it long enough to be rehabilitated.

The Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation (POWH), which opened in May 2010, has currently 52 birds in their captivity that consists primarily of northern gannets, high bill greens, seagulls, ferns and a few herons.  While the POWH can easily accommodate a few hundred birds, dependent on size and severity of oil coverings, the maximum that POWH has contained has been 102 birds,  bringing the total to 949 birds rescued within the four Gulf rehabilitation centers.

When a bird first enters the rehabilitation center-the oil is not cleaned right away. Many birds are in shock or frightened and they need to be stabilized and possibly re-hydrated before any further stress is placed upon the bird. It has been found that by giving the birds a couple days to recuperate has increased the survivability tenfold.

Initially, veterinarians take  blood and feather samples to test for anemia and infection and give the oiled birds a temporary tag. Then the bird is taken to an oiled bird trailer where it can rest, if needed, in a temperature controlled trailer and receive IV fluids, food and Pepto Bismo to protect its stomach lining.

Just before they are washed, the birds are sprayed with a warm canola oil to loosen oil residue on their feathers. Then they are taken to a washing tub which requires normally 3-4 people to wash one oiled bird.

Once the head and pouch is cleaned using clothes, toothbrushes and small sponges are used for delicate areas with water flushed on an almost continuous basis to keep the soap from running into the birds eyes. A bath normally lasts up to 45 minutes, and for a large bird, like a brown pelican, as much as 300 gallons of water is used.

After a scrubbing down of the bird, a thorough rinse is necessary considering that soap can interfere in the same manner as oil via hypothermia.

Newly cleaned, the birds are whisked off to a drying room to rest in a padded pen while floor-mounted pet grooming dryers blew warm air. Smaller birds and wading birds are not blow dried but instead sit in pens under warming lights.

Once their total strength is gained, birds are then permanently tagged for tracking purposes and transported to outside containment facilities to get them re-accustomed to outside surroundings before releasing them into the wild.  The birds are allowed to recover for five to seven days, regaining buoyancy and water resistance by preening, putting on weight, and readjusting to outdoor temperatures.

Once returned to good health, they are ready to be released to the wild.  However, the wild may not be ready for them. In an environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon spill, wildlife cannot return to their contaminated homes. Instead birds have to be released into an area where they do not run the chance of being re-oiled. The majority of the birds are released off the east coast of Florida.

I asked Heidi Stout from the Tri-State Bird Rescue  & Research Organization, on ways that everyday citizens can get involved with the clean up of oiled wildlife. At this time, the only people who can physically help the oiled wildlife is trained paraprofessionals (licensed veterinarians, license wildlife handlers etc) since dealing with stressed birds could be harmful.

However, she urged for concerned citizens who are willing to volunteer via answering phones and inputting data information to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to offer assistance. It was also suggested that the donation of goods used to help clean the animals and monetary donations to further recovery efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, you can visit http://www.volunteerflorida.org/ to sign up for more volunteer training as well as visit a facebook group called, NWFL Panhandle Volunteer Beach Rescue Group at, http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113452012028768&ref=ts for panhandle county specific volunteer efforts.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


I went to an oil spill Q &A last night with local officials and I was chosen to ask three questions. My questions are in bold and the answers are below.  Feel free to post a comment!

1. Has there been talks about putting oxygen down into the sea floor to help the animals and/or to break up the oil faster via the algae growth?

Answer: NO. It was apparent to me that they are not concerned with the oxygen level (poor, innocent, animals!) as they are more with the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Another problem with the oxygen, is that they are not sure how they could get oxygen down at that depth and a lot of the oil would already be on the sea floor. To me, it’s an obvious answer~ set up a pipe that is suspended mid sea and anchored into the sea floor with oxygen being released from the top AND at the bottom. When I offered that solution, that is when I was told that they were not so much worried about the oxygen than the lack of nitrogen and phosphorus. 😦

2. Does the Corexit dispersant have a smell to it? If not, how are they testing the seafood – since it appears that they are only sniffing the fish and looking for oil? (Dispersant is toxic as well).

Answer: The dispersant normally does not have a scent. There have been no real ways to test for the toxicity of the seafood in relation to the dispersant. (This is VERY concerning to me).

3. With the dispersant being biodegradable, is toxic rain a concern?

Answer. (Long pause). No. (No real further clarification, from my standpoint).

***I have to be honest when I state that I believe that toxic rain IS a very real possibility and will be continuing to look into it further.

If YOU have any questions regarding the oil spill, clean up efforts, wild life rescue, hurricane influenced actions and/or anything else, please send me a comment here and Ill do my best to answer it or find an answer to it.


05.24.2010

BP Chief Operation Officer, Doug Suttles, stated that there have been 30 miles of marshes that were affected with 15 miles of the the affected marshes having “significant” amounts of oil in which required “several” clean up teams.

EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson confirmed this statement by indicating that, ” The oil is really piling up” and is “more convinced now than ever that BP/TransOcean/Halliburton has a BIG job in front of them.”

Officials stand by, helpless, while oil rolls into the shoreline wetlands and coats the stalks and leaves of plants such as roseau cane – the fabric that holds together an ecosystem that is essential to the region’s fishing industry and a much-needed buffer against gulf hurricanes. Soon, oil will smother those plants and choke off their supply of air and nutrients.

In some eddies and protected inlets, the ochre-colored crude has pooled beneath the water’s surface, forming clumps several inches deep.

Pelican eggs were glazed with rust-colored gunk in the bird colony, and thick globs floated on top of the water. Nests sat precariously close to the mess in mangrove trees. Workers had surrounded the island in Barataria Bay with the booms, but oil seeped through the barrier.

Meanwhile, in Barataria Bay, in southeastern Louisiana in Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish,  orange oil had made its way a good 6 inches onto the shore, coating grasses and the nests of brown pelicans in mangrove trees. Just six months ago, the birds had been removed from the federal endangered species list.

Over time, experts say weather and natural microbes will break down most of the oil. However, the crude will surely poison plants and wildlife in the months – even years – it will take for the oil to dissipate.

Since the existing oil is hard to clean up, it appears that efforts have shifted to preventable measures.

Talks are now being held to utilize several chain of sandbag berms, reinforced with containment booms, that would skirt the state’s coastline. In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers also is considering a broader plan that would use dredging to build sand berms across more of the barrier islands.

Louisiana Governor Jindal has utilized the sandbag berm concept that protect the marshes behind Elmers Island, LA.
“You can see this is heavy oil. We tried to stir this up, This isn’t light oil. If this land bridge wasn’t here, this oil would go right through, and there’s nothing to stop it from getting into those wetlands,” said Jindal.

Despite the urgency of the matter, the request- which has been put in over 2 weeks ago- is still awaiting approval.  Governor Jindel has concluded that matters needed to be put in his State’s hands and wisely authorized this action to take place. In addition to this action, Governor Jindel also urged the federal government to approve their request to dredge sand off the sea floor to build more berms to protect the wetlands.

Extreme measures have been discussed; such as setting the marsh on fire or flooding the marsh in an attempt to push the oil back. However, these measures could do more harm than good.

If the marshes are drier than average, setting the marsh on fire could burn the vegetation to its roots, essentially wiping out the entire marsh.

Likewise,  flooding  could wash away the natural barriers that provide protection against  flooding from hurricanes and other disasters — much like hurricanes Katrina and Rita washed away marshlands in 2005. State and federal officials spent millions rebuilding the much-needed buffer against tropical storms.

The future for the Louisiana marshes look bleak with the majority of the response concentrated on preventing the oil from entering with very little focus on absorbing the method.

“Just the compaction of humanity bringing equipment in, walking on them, will kill them,” said David White, a wetlands ecologist from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


BP today announced a commitment of up to $500 million to an open research program studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and its associated response, on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico.

“BP has made a commitment to doing everything we can to lessen the impact of this tragic incident on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast. We must make every effort to understand that impact. This will be a key part of the process of restoration, and for improving the industry response capability for the future. There is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific community has access to the samples and the raw data it needs to begin this work,” said Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive.

The key questions to be addressed by this 10-year research program reflect discussions with the US government and academic scientists in Washington DC last week. BP will fund research to examine topics including:

  • Where are the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersant going under the action of ocean currents?
  • How do oil, the dispersed oil and the dispersant behave on the seabed, in the water column, on the surface, and on the shoreline?
  • What are the impacts of the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersant on the biota of the seabed, the water column, the surface, and the shoreline?
  • How do accidental releases of oil compare to natural seepage from the seabed?
  • What is the impact of dispersant on the oil? Does it help or hinder biodegradation?
  • How will the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersant interact with tropical storms, and will this interaction impact the seabed, the water column and the shoreline?
  • What can be done to improve technology:
    • To detect oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the seabed, in the water column, and on the surface?
    • For remediating the impact of oil accidently released to the ocean?

BP already has ongoing marine research programs in the Gulf of Mexico. Building on these, BP will appoint an independent advisory panel to construct the long term research program. Where appropriate, the studies may be coordinated with the ongoing natural resources damages assessment. The program will engage some of the best marine biologists and oceanographers in the world. More immediately, a baseline of information for the long term research program is needed. A first grant to Louisiana State University will help kick start this work.

“LSU has a significant amount of experience in dealing with the oil and gas industry and deep knowledge pertaining to the Gulf of Mexico across numerous topical disciplines. The first part of the program is about obtaining and analyzing samples and assessing immediate impacts. Other areas of importance will emerge as researchers become engaged and the potential impacts from the spill are better understood,” said Professor Christopher D’Elia, Dean of the School of the Coast and Environment.

Subsequent awards will be controlled by the independent advisory board.

Notes to editors:

  • BP has been collaborating with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 2004 in a program aimed at gaining a better understanding of the environment and hazards in oceans, including marine electromagnetic research. The focus of oceanography efforts has been loop currents in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In 2008, as part of the Deepwater Environmental Long-term Observatory System (DELOS), BP installed the world’s first system designed to monitor deep-sea marine life. DELOS is supported by Texas A&M in Galveston, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of Aberdeen, National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and the University of Glasgow.

Further information:

BP Press Office London +44 20 7496 4076
BP Press office, US: +1 281 366 0265
Unified Command Joint Information Center +1 985 902 5231
www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com
www.bp.com/gulfofmexico

Alabama

– West Indian manatee
– Alabama beach mouse
– Perdido Key beach mouse
– Piping plover
– Wood stork
– Loggerhead sea turtle
– Leatherback sea turtle
– Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
– Green sea turtle
– Alabama red belly turtle
– Gulf sturgeon

Mississippi
– West Indian manatee
– Piping plover
– Loggerhead sea turtle
– Leatherback sea turtle
– Kemp’s ridley sea turtle
– Green sea turtle
– Alabama red belly turtle
– Gulf sturgeon

Louisiana
– West Indian manatee
– Piping plover
– Loggerhead sea turtle
– Leatherback sea turtle
– Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
– Green sea turtle
– Hawksbill sea turtle
– Gulf sturgeon

Florida
– West Indian manatee
– Florida salt marsh vole
– Whooping crane
– Piping plover
– Wood stork
– Loggerhead sea turtle
– Leatherback sea turtle
– Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle
– Green sea turtle
– Gulf sturgeon
– Perdido Key beach mouse
– Choctawhatchee beach mouse
– St Andrew beach mouse
– Piping plover
– Florida perforate cladonia
– Key deer
– Key Largo cotton mouse
– Lower Keys marsh rabbit
– Rice rat
– Key Largo woodrat
– Roseate tern
– American crocodile
– Beach jacquemontia
– Garbers spurge

Source: http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/pdfs/FedListedBirdsGulf.pdf


BP to offer training in conjunction with OSHA and the Coast Guard.

Health, Safety and Environmental Training has been a key focus to properly prepare those interested in participating in shoreline clean up. The training is fit-for-purpose based on whether you are a volunteer, contractor or vessel owner. The Post-Emergency Spilled Oil Response Training Modules were prepared by Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), with review and approval provided by BP, Occupational Safety & Health Administration and US Coast Guard personnel.

The training is for those registered in the Vessel of Opportunity program or as a contractor who wants to participate in clean up. The non-contaminated beach clean up “volunteers” will receive a basic BP health, safety & environmental orientation which as been endorsed by OSHA and the the Coast Guard.

To be included as a volunteer, please contact the BP volunteer hotline at 866-448-5816. Your contact information will be gathered and you will contacted when opportunities arise in your area.

****If you are interested in assisting in shoreline oil spill clean up operations, and you live in one of the coastal states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida), you can request placement in a spill response course by emailing Horizonresponse@pecpremier.com.

PLEASE NOTE:: This course is not a guarantee of employment but provides credentials needed to be hired for spill cleanup work by BP contractors.

For more up to date information, visit http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.


05.04.2010

Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with the Department of  the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  U.S. Coastguard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), British Petroleum (BP) and TransOcean.

Satellite imagery shows that the former 3,400 sq. miles oil slick has been reduced to  2000 sq mile. While at first this may seem reassuring, it is important to realize that the oil is pooling; that is, the oil remains under the water.

It has been claimed that the blowout rig did not have any fire boom on hand  which would have enabled a controlled burn of the oil slick. To compensate for the lack of supplies, the government fire boom from an Illinois-based manufacturer.

Ever since the 1989 Exxon Valdez  oil spill, the “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms. Those fire booms were not available.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour.  That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.  Further, the lack of a response for 8 days allowed the oil to spread further. Even more so, when the storm front rolled through a few days ago and all controlled burning was halted.

However, these response efforts have not stopped the oil slick from presenting  a threat to our coastline.

12 shrimp and 10 response boats have been following the oil sheen as it nears the coastline of Chandler, Louisiana. As of this point, no oil has made contact with the shoreline and it is said that the weather will keep the oil at bay for 3 days.

The stalled recovery efforts resumed activity this afternoon. Oil skimming, overhead dispersant, subsurface dispersant (one of the same with the only difference being the altitude/depth in which it is applied) and controlled surface burning have received the all-clear to assume the offensive position to battle the spreading of the oil slick. Further, 100 barrels of oil were burned in the initial response effort.  Due to the calm weather, officials are confident that oil can be ignited at a rate of 500-1000 barrels a day.

Additionally, the second blowout valve will be operational by the end of the day. However, this will not stop the oil flow altogether- instead, it will only stop one of the leaks, leaving the other 2 leaks exposed until further recovery efforts.

The next line of response to stop the flow of oil, a first time recovery tactic, a 70 ton concentrate and metal structure coffer-like dome which will extend t0 5,000 under water. This response has been effective in shallow waters; however, the response is unknown when submerged in greater depths.

The first containment chamber has been fabricated and is set to leave the dock by 12p CDT.  The containment chamber is expected to be operational within 6 days. No mention was made to the fabrication of the second containment chamber.

Alabama is capitalizing on the extra days of calm weather to install Hesco containers around West End Public Beach, the far west side of Dauphin Island.

The containers, metal cages lined a green absorbent, will be filled with C.I. Agent, a biochemical substance designed to solidify any oil that comes into contact with it. The solidified oil is then easier to remove and the green absorbent can be replaced to capture additional oil.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the material is actually a wall that will protect the north shoreline.

“It presents a physical barrier as you can see. There’s some elevation to it so it can withstand a little bit of wave action. But essentially it will absorb an oil sheer that comes in there,” Collier said.

Additionally, private contractors in Alabama have been building a massive sand berm along the Gulf-facing shore on the western half of the island.   The berm will stretch for miles along the narrow island to prevent oil from flowing over the top of the island.

Meanwhile,  Gulf Cost residents are lining up in droves to volunteer and to help pre clean our beaches.  There was a massive clean up effort of approximately 1,000 volunteers rushing to clean up the shorelines. Similar efforts remain in effect; however, it was stressed to avoid picking up above the high tide line.

The Audubon Society warned that there many eggs right above the high tide line that blend in with the sand and could be accidentally crushed.  Additionally, it was asked to not remove any natural debris as that could provide a housing shelter for animals.

The oil sheen is not expected to make landfall for another 3 days. Use this time wisely to prepare a defense and a proactive stance against the looming oil slick.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.