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08.05.2014 03:03
Gulf Oil Spill Pictures antworten

Gulf Oil Spill Pictures

Least TernsPhotograph Roberto Clemente Jersey by Dave Martin, AP

A least tern checks on its rock colored eggs on a , beach on Saturday. The Mississippi coast is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of least terns in the United States, according to the National Audubon Society.

But as oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico moves closer to shore, the migratory birds are among up to 400 coastal species that could be affected, biologists say. Least terns are likely to come in direct contact with the slick, because they fish for food along the beach, said Lee Schoen, curator of birds at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

"The turns are right there on the beach, and they nest on the shores of these barriers islands. Along with all of the other [potential dangers], they're going to have nests getting oil in them," Schoen said. (See shorebird pictures.)Bluefin TunaPhotograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

The Gulf oil spill comes at an especially bad time for Atlantic bluefin tuna, because the fish are now moving into their spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the Tag a Giant Foundation, which tracks the movements of more than a thousand bluefin tuna, the area where the oil spill is centered is one of the fish's primary breeding grounds.

Tuna eggs and larvae can be severely harmed by just a few drops of crude oil, said Harry Blanchet, finfish program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Larger tuna are at risk if they eat smaller fish that have themselves ingested the oil.

(See "Gulf Oil Spill a 'Dead Zone in the Making'?")

Brown PelicansPhotograph by Willie Stargell Jersey Alex Brandon, AP

Floated to hold back oil from the Gulf spill, a containment boom creates an orange line in the water not far from nesting pelicans and other shorebirds on Louisiana's Breton Island on April 30. (See a .)

The brown pelican the state bird of Louisiana is in critical danger due to the Gulf oil spill, because the species spends much of its time floating on the surface of the water. That means the crude can accumulate on the birds' feathers, causing them to lose buoyancy.

Oil also allows cool water to get past the birds' wet suit like feathers and touch skin, compromising the pelicans' thermal regulation and making it harder for them to fly and dive for fish.

In addition, brown pelicans are currently in the middle of nesting season, and they tend to nest on beaches that appear in the path of the approaching oil slick. (See "Oil Spill Hits Gulf Coast Habitats.")

DolphinsPhotograph by Gerald Herbert, AP

Dolphins surface in Breton Sound not far from the Louisiana coast on May 1, as gas wells loom farther out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Up to 5,000 bottlenose dolphins may be calving in the path of the Gulf oil spill, according to Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Both young and adult dolphins are at risk of inhaling and ingesting floating oil, because the marine mammals must surface to breathe. With their soft skin, dolphins can also experience skin irritation from the oil, and eating tainted fish could poison the mammals.

Sea TurtlesPhotograph by Dave Martin, AP

More than thirty dead sea turtles including the one pictured near were found on the beaches of Mississippi in early May. Researchers have collected the bodies in an attempt to determine whether the turtles died due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Turtles feed and breathe at the water's surface, so they're in danger of oil ingestion and inhalation, said Michele Kelley, standing coordinator of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

Turtles are also known to "mouth and chew on anything" and will likely investigate large clumps of the toxic crude, Kelley said. Oil from well leaks is much thicker than the processed oil that spills during tanker accidents.

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