Oil spill cleanup in the gulf

Coastal impact in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi

 
 

LOUISIANA

MISSISSIPPI

ALABAMA

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

Developed land

Inland marsh or swamp

Coastal marsh or swamp

Tidal areas

 

Wildlife and habitats at risk

Birds and marine mammals along the Louisiana coast are most at risk from the spill. Their habitat is at risk, too. Shorelines all around the gulf as well as Florida's Keys and east coast could be endangered.

Brown Pelican

Brown pelican Oil coats their feathers, preventing them from flying and feeding. As they preen, pelicans can consume the toxic oil.

 
Snowy Plover

Snowy plover Feeds on small invertebrates or oysters. At risk when oil comes ashore or affects their food sources.

 
Mangroves

Mangroves Oil sticks to prop roots that let the plant "breathe" and smothers the plants, which are nurseries for many species, such as shrimp.

 
Salt marshes

Salt marshes Oil coats plants like cordgrass, blocking them from absorbing sun or exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen.

 
Seagrass

Seagrass Oil can smother the grass, which provides food for a variety of species, including manatees.

 

Marine animals at risk

whale

Sperm whales The major concern is that when they surface to breathe, they can inhale toxic fumes. It's unclear how much it would take to be fatal.

 
tuna

Bluefin tunas Western Atlantic population of the bluefin tuna is at the peak of spawning season. Atlantic tarpon also spawn now.

 
turtle

Sea turtles Time for building nests and laying eggs on the beach is just beginning. A spill can block access to beaches, or if ingested in sufficient quanties can poison the turtles.

 
oyster

Oysters Oysters can't move out of the way. They are efficient filter feeders, which means they'll help clean the water -- but oil will stay in the oyster itself, and there's no way to get it out. Too much is toxic.

 
 
JOHN CORBITT; DARLA CAMERON; DON MORRIS; CRAIG PITTMAN | Times
Sources: David Ringer, National Audubon Society; Aaron Viles, Gulf Restoration Network; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
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After a deepwater drilling rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana on April 20, about 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the water. The spill was capped on July 15, but its aftermath still affects Florida.

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