You may remember when, six years ago, a British Petroleum oil rig called Deepwater Horizon spilled 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. (For a dramatic refresher, an eponymously named movie will be released soon, starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson.)
The Deepwater Horizon spill devastated the local environment to the extent that workers are still attempting to restore normalcy to the region. Sadly, those workers have encountered a major setback in their efforts: on September 5, 2016, a contractor accidentally cut a pipeline pumping oil out of the area.
The following day, a confirmed 5,250 gallons of oil had escaped the rupture.
As a result, the US Coast Guard reports that “approximately 200 birds have been observed as oiled to varying degrees.” Along with wildlife rescue crews, the Coast Guard is working to recover and save the birds affected.
A bird’s feathers do more than just help it fly, and when they’re covered in oil, the bird is in trouble. Feathers act as a waterproofing barrier, and protect their highly-sensitive skin from the elements; oil spills completely mitigate these benefits, leaving birds helpless. Even worse is birds’ natural instinct to remove the oil by “preening” (cleaning and straightening the feathers with the beak), resulting in oil ingestion and organ damage.
As of now, eleven of the birds have been rescued and are currently being cleaned.
If you live in a coastal region of any of the Gulf States and see affected animals (or wish to render assistance in other ways), call the TWRC Wildlife Center’s Oil Spill Response division via this number: