New Report Reveals a Degraded Gulf of Mexico
By Jaclyn McDougal
As the two-year mark of the Deepwater Horizon blowout approaches, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) issued a new report examining the health of the Gulf’s wildlife and wetlands. Impacts from the Gulf oil disaster will be unfolding for years, if not decades, and many species of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico will need the combined efforts of scientists, policymakers and regulators to recover.
A Degraded Gulf Of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Two Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster was written by National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Dr. Doug Inkley. The report is also available as an interactive graphic by clicking here.
Major highlights include:
- The poor health in dolphins in the most heavily oiled areas and the spike in dolphin deaths suggest possible ecosystem-wide effects of the oil.
- The Gulf’s already-endangered sea turtle population has been dealt a severe blow by the oil disaster. Already strained bluefin tuna, deep sea coral, Gulf wetlands and coastal habitats were also impacted.
“It’s important to remember what we don’t yet know. Previous catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez have shown that impacts of oil disasters last many years or even decades,” Inkley said. “Little action has been taken to address the long-term species threats and wetlands habitat degradation exacerbated by the oil disaster. Much more needs to be done to ensure a complete recovery.”
Other oil disasters have taken years to reveal their full effects, and often recovery remains incomplete after decades.
“It will be critical to monitor these key species in the months and years ahead, especially given the unknown impacts of weathered and ‘dispersed’ oil remaining in the Gulf,” said Dr. George Crozier, retired director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab. “This disaster hit an ecosystem already weakened by years of wetlands degradation, including coastal areas around the Mississippi River Delta losing a football field worth of land every hour.”
The April 20, 2010 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and the Macondo well would eventually release nearly 206 million gallons of oil, providing a new setback to a Gulf ecosystem already struggling with years of wetlands degradation and the destructive power of Hurricane Katrina.
“It is essential for Congress to pass the RESTORE Act to reinvest penalties and fines to restoring the Gulf,” said David Muth, state director of NWF’s Mississippi River Delta program. “Without legislation to direct fines and penalties from the oil disaster to restoring the Gulf Coast’s wetlands and coastal ecosystems and a comprehensive Gulf Coast restoration program, the outlook for Gulf recovery will remain uncertain.”
For more information, click here.
England's Somerset county can now boast its first beaver dam in more than 400 years.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alex McInturff, Christine Wilkinson and Wenjing Xu
What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet's fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.
Early advertisement for barbed wire fencing, 1880-1889. The advent of barbed wire dramatically changed ranching and land use in the American West by ending the open range system. Kansas Historical Society / CC BY-ND
The authors assembled a conservative data set of potential fence lines across the U.S. West. They calculated the nearest distance to any given fence to be less than 31 miles (50 kilometers), with a mean of about 2 miles (3.1 kilometers). McInturff et al,. 2020 / CC BY-ND
- 'This Is Not Like a Fence in a Backyard' — Trump's Border Wall vs ... ›
- New Border Wall Construction Threatens 8 Species With Extinction ... ›
Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.
- These Are the Challenges Facing India's Most Sacred River ... ›
- Oil Spill Causes 'Major Disaster' for Ganges River Dolphins ... ›
By Kenny Stancil
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
- Are the Amazon Fires a Crime Against Humanity? - EcoWatch ›
- 'Her Work Will Live On': Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide ... ›