Editors Note: This page will continue to update Neptune 911 readers on the environmental impact on sea life as it becomes available.
6/29/10 Sea Turtles Burned Alive Escaping Gulf Oil spill
From Defenders of Wildlife
It’s a horrifying story: Last week, a Gulf ship captain reported seeing sea turtles burned alive in an attempt to keep oil off the Gulf coast. 
BP – the company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent Gulf oil disaster – was trying to contain and prevent the oil from reaching coastal beaches and marshes by burning it at sea.
So far, at least 429 threatened and endangered sea turtles have been confirmed dead since oil first began spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout. . However, many more sea turtles have likely been lost from the oil spill but not found… and many more would certainly die when baby turtles begin to hatch in the coming weeks. That is why agencies are collecting the eggs from the nests they know of for transfer to Atlantic Florida beaches that are free from oil.
Sea turtles will die from ingesting too much oil. And like us, they can drown. Sea turtles need to surface to breathe, which is hard to do when the ocean’s surface is coated with toxic oil.
6/3/10. As the greastest oil spill disaster in America continues to outdo itself, many of us feel frustrated. I’ve taken the liberty to post this from
5/29/10 Follow this link for the science of oil spills and the Gulf BP Oil Spill Disaster: http://www.seaweb.org/resources/documents/MSR_371SpecialEdition-Oilandoilspills.pdf
5/27/10 ” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the spill size has vastly exceeded that of the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, setting a new record for the worst of its kind in U.S. history, reports the Associated Press.”
5/27/10…. This is the news we feared was coming our way: Phillipe Cousteau: “This is a nightmare.”
5/20/10 From Blue Voice.org
Are Dispersants Safe for Marine Life?
By Mark Guarino, Staff writer
posted May 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm EDT
Two dispersants BP has been using to break up the oil spewing from an undersea wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico carry the federal stamp of approval. But they are not rated as effective or as safe for marine life as at least 12 other government-approved dispersants on the market.
Environmental groups are asking why this is the case, and they suggest BP may reduce damage to coastal habitats by breaking up the oil before it hits shore – but at the expense of the marine ecosystem further out in the Gulf.
In the four weeks since the Deepwater Horizon rig capsized after an explosion, BP has released 436,000 gallons of the two dispersants, Corexit EC9500A and Corexit EC9527A, the company says. Dispersants break up the escaped oil into molecular bits before it reaches shore.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has pre-approved both for such emergencies. The effectiveness of Corexit EC9500A is rated as 55 percent, and the effectiveness of Corexit EC9527A is rated as 63 percent, according to the EPA. That ranks them behind 12 other dispersants (out of 18) that the agency has determined do a better job dispersing oil while protecting marine life.
As for toxicity, the EPA rates both products as either comparable in toxicity or 10 to 20 times more toxic than the 12 others on the list. This week, BP chief executive Tony Hayward told The Guardian newspaper that the amount was “tiny in relation to the total water volume” in the Gulf.
Reliance on dispersants, especially in response to a disaster on par with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, is understandable, say environmental groups. What they don’t understand is why marine ecosystems are being sacrificed to save coastal habitats, a trade-off that wouldn’t be an issue if less toxic solutions were stockpiled.
Not enough is known about how the Corexit products will affect marine life, says Richard Charter, senior policy adviser for marine programs with Defenders of Wildlife, an advocacy organization in Washington. Not only is the size of the spill unique, but the Gulf environment presents conditions that EPA testing would not necessarily replicate in a lab.
“You now have a giant chemistry experiment being done in the Gulf of Mexico,” Mr. Charter says.
Dispersants in general are also unpredictable in this situation because it is uncertain where the molecules will travel and eventually settle, due to heavy tidal conditions and tropical storms, and what byproducts will form as a result.
“What effect that will have we don’t know,” says Judy Haner, marine program director for the Alabama chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
There is no “direct way to know exactly which [habitats]” will be affected by the dispersants, said Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “Anything that we say at this point is speculation,” Dr. Lubchenco said, adding that monitoring will continue.
EPA officials say the agency only has the power to pre-approve dispersant products and has no say about which ones companies choose to stockpile as part of their contingency plan. BP chose to use Corexit because it was available the week of the explosion, says EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. EPA is allowing BP to use the product only on the water’s surface, she says. The company is seeking approval to use it underwater, Ms. Jackson adds. So far, two tests proved inconclusive in determining its effectiveness under water, and results of a third test are not yet known.
“Dispersants are not the silver bullet” in containing the oil, Jackson says.
Corexit is a brand of dispersant manufactured by Nalco Co., located in Naperville, Ill. Corexit EC9527A has a better environmental rating than Corexit EC9500A because it has been on the market longer, says company spokesman Charlie Pajor in a phone interview. Nalco is increasing production of both, but Mr. Pajor says the scope of the disaster will give the company better insight into the product’s future development, which will include “looking at ways to improve the environmental profile and effectiveness of the product.”
Critics have said the major oil companies stockpile Corexit, despite its relatively poor toxicity rating, because of their cozy relationship with Nalco. Nalco’s executives include a former BP board member and a former Exxon executive. Critics cited by Greenwire, an online news organization that covers environmental and energy issues, say the company’s board of directors is stacked with oil industry insiders.
Pajor says the company is being misrepresented and, contrary to news reports, was never owned by Exxon. Nalco and Exxon Chemical formed a joint venture called Nalco Exxon Energy Chemicals in 1994. Following a takeover by a parent company in 2001, Exxon’s interest was bought out and the two companies no longer have a relationship, Pajor says.
Thank You Ocean Podcast with Recent Information: http://www.thankyouocean.org/news/podcasts
From Thank You Ocean:
On April 22, 2010 the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sank 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. On this report you will learn how you can find current information on the spill and how you can help. (Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Justin E. Stumberg/Released) | Click here to view .mp4 video in larger player
For more information, visit:
- Deepwater Horizon Response page
- OR&R Deepwater Horizon page (main NOAA page)
- NOS Deepwater Horizon page
- Gulf of Mexico spill
- Waterkeeper Alliance
- National Wildlife Federation
- International Bird Rescue
- Audubon Society
- Gulf of Mexico Alliance
Over 600 species in and near Louisiana at risk from oil spill
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries recently released their list of regional marine life species at risk from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. http://media.nola.com/news_impact/other/wildlife-at-risk-oil-spill.pdf
5/3/10 From Discovery News:
Current Could Push Oil Spill Up East Coast
Oceanographers are keeping their eyes on the Gulf Loop Current, which could spread the oil slick through the Florida Keys and to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras.
Mon May 3, 2010 09:18 AM ET | content provided by Eric Niiler, Discovery News http://news.discovery.com/earth/oil-spill-gulf-loop-current.html)
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is expected to strike the Louisiana coastline today, and officials are bracing for impacts to shorebirds, turtles, shellfish and other endangered wildlife. But many ocean scientists are now raising concerns that a powerful current could spread the still-bubbling slick from the Florida Keys all the way to Cape Hatteras off North Carolina.
These oceanographers are carefully watching the Gulf Loop Current, a clockwise swirl of warm water that sets up in the Gulf of Mexico each spring and summer. If the spill meets the loop — the disaster becomes a runaway.
“It could make it from Louisiana all the way to Miami in a week, maybe less.” said Eric Chassignet, director of the Center for Ocean Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University. “It is pretty fast.”
Right now, some computer models show the spill 30 to 50 miles north of the loop current. If the onshore winds turn around and push the oil further south: “That would be a nightmare,” said Yonggang Liu, research associate at the University of South Florida who models the current. “Hopefully we are lucky, but who knows. The winds are changing and difficult to predict.”
Imagine the loop current as an ocean-going highway, transporting tiny plankton, fish and other marine life along a watery conveyor belt. Sometimes it even picks up a slug of freshwater from the Mississippi River — sending it on a wandering journey up to North Carolina.
The Gulf Loop Current acts like jet of warm water that squirts in from the Caribbean basin and sloshes around the Gulf of Mexico before being squeezed out the Florida Strait, where it joins the larger and more powerful Gulf Stream current.
Fishermen follow the current as a harbinger of good catches. It has also transported algal blooms — toxic “red tides” — from the Gulf of Mexico to beaches and bays along the southeast Atlantic coast.
Oceanographer George Maul worries that the current could push the oil slick right through the Florida Keys and its 6,000 coral reefs.
“I looked at some recent satellite imagery and it looks like some of the oil may be shifted to the south,” said Maul, a professor at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. “If it gets entrained in the loop, it could spread throughout much of the Atlantic.”
In fact, new animation from a consortium of Florida institutions and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts a slight southward shift in the oil over the next few days.
Emergency responders are working to cap the oil spill at its undersea source, but admit it could be weeks before the well is shut down.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are expected to release their predictions of the spill and the loop current early this week. A spokeswoman for the agency did not respond to requests for comment by Discovery News.
-Eric Niiler is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
5/3/10 From Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Oil Spill: Bad News for Bluefin
A bad year for Atlantic bluefin tuna just got a whole lot worse.
Its numbers have declined precipitously for decades, and it was denied the protection of an international trade ban in March.
Now comes a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — just as bluefin tuna are arriving to spawn. And the spill is smack in the middle of the spawning grounds, according to Stanford University’s Dr. Barbara Block, a preeminent tuna research scientist and a partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the Tuna Research and Conservation Center.
Block is blunt in her assessment, and it goes much beyond the fate of a single species.
“There is a much larger disaster unfolding here environmentally than people realize,” she told AOL News. “There is a lot of focus on the Louisiana shoreline, but (the Gulf of Mexico) is America’s greatest fisheries nursery, and we’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on immediately.”
Original post 4/29/10
The continuing enviro-disaster from the exploded and destroyed oil rig Deepwater Horizon, considered “one of the safest and most advanced offshore drilling rigs in the world,” in the Gulf of Mexico is about to make landfall. That is, the 200,000 +/- gallons of oil spewing into the fragile Gulf of Mexico waters of will begin oozing into the delicate wetlands and estuaries of Louisiana tomorrow, Friday, April 30. The coasts of Mississippi and Alabama begins battling oil-coated shores by Sunday.
Besides fisheries, sea turtles, sharks, brown pelicans, dolphins, and delta and nesting birds are at high risk as the oil slick makes its way into Louisiana’s wetlands—about 40% of the country’s wetland habitat.
CBS noted the North Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, already an endangered species : “…is one of the species most in danger of slipping into extinction. Traveling down across the Atlantic seaboard, bluefin tuna spawn in the Gulf of Mexico between mid-April and mid-June.”