Update: Oiled Sea Birds in Grand Terre

Many of you have seen the dramatic, disturbing photos of sea birds completely covered in oil on Grand Terre Island. Last night, the Unified Command reported that the nearby Queen Bess Island Rookery has also seen severe impacts from BP’s oil drilling disaster. Queen Bess Island is known locally as “Bird Island” and is a very important nesting spot for Brown pelicans. According to the Unified Command, “60 birds, including 41 pelicans” were coated in oil and these birds were “rescued and transported to the Fort Jackson Rehabilitation Center.” Unfortunately, if these birds were as soaked in oil as those photographed on Grand Terre, it is unlikely that many will survive. Brown pelicans are the Louisiana state bird, and have long been severely endangered. In the 1970s, Brown pelicans were completely extinct in Louisiana and throughout much of the country. In the early effort to rebuild their population in Louisiana, Queen Bess Island was “the very first to have fledged brown pelicans during the transplant efforts.” In recent years, great strides have been made towards rebuilding their populations, but continued coastal wetlands loss and the BP oil drilling disaster are likely to reverse this trend. According to some biologists, this spill could decimate “an entire generation of Louisiana pelicans.” To quote from a recent Times-Picayune article that features several experts on the potential impacts for Brown pelicans:While the loss of adult pelicans is saddening, biologists are more worried about what the next few weeks will bring. That’s when the pelican class of 2010 perhaps as many as 100,000 chicks – begins coming of age and moving toward those brown lines [of oil].Raleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer

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