– Dr. Bruce Stein is associate director for wildlife conservation and global warming at the National Wildlife Federation. Any views expressed here are his own. —
Here at the National Wildlife Federation, we’re encouraged by reports of progress in permanently sealing the Gulf oil gusher and at removing oil from the Gulf’s surface. But we’re concerned that both BP and our federal government seem eager to declare the crisis over even as oil continues sullying the habitats on which the Gulf’s wildlife and seafood industry depend.
While Wednesday’s NOAA report touted that only a quarter of the oil is in marshes or still on the surface, it says another quarter was naturally or chemically “dispersed” beneath the surface.
That means about half of the oil, or 103 million gallons – the equivalent of nine Exxon Valdez disasters – remains on or below the Gulf’s surface, fouling coastal and marine habitats and hurting its wildlife.
In just the first few days of August, nearly 600 birds and more than 100 endangered sea turtles have been rescued or found dead. Since the Gulf oil disaster began, more than 5,000 birds, nearly a thousand endangered sea turtles, and dozens of dolphins have been rescued or found dead.