On April 20 2010 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused the deaths of 11 people and also a fire which finally destroyed the platform. The safety valves on the sea floor failed to work and did not close the well that had been drilled, out of which thousands of barrels of oil started flowing into the marine environment. This continuous flow has only recently been stopped after many efforts, complicated by the depth at which the oil was leaking from the seafloor (1500 metres). BP is expecting to stop the leak permanently somewhere in August by drilling two relief wells. This means that for a number of weeks more oil will flow into the Gulf. A lot of the oil spilled could remain at sea for many weeks, months or years before coming ashore. Shoreline impacts and cleanup will last for a long time.
As part of the response activities, an oiled wildlife response has been set up, which is fully integrated into the overall response. Two main control units have been set up, one for birds (lead by TriState Bird Rescue Research) and one for marine turtles and mammals (lead by Oiled Wildlife Care Network). Response activities include search and collection (on beaches, in marshes, at sea), impact assessment, rehabilitation and release. Almost 1200 oiled birds have been taken into rehabilitation (as of July 18) of which some 511 have been already released. The picture shows an oiled brown pelican (photo Associated Press).
Sea Alarm has been following the incident almost from the beginning and put together an archive of relevant information and news articles published on the issue. We have been collecting quantitative data as published by the US Fish and Wildlfie Service and on blogs. We have used those data to present a number of summarising figures which have been published on the incidents page of www.oiledwildlife.eu.