Oil and Food Webs Don’t Mix

What is happening to birds is happening to all creatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil on a Beach

Sea turtles, whales, dolphins, crabs, oysters, shrimp, and many other living things are in danger. Dolphins, whales, and sea turtles can get covered in oil when they surface to breathe, and they can get sick if they swallow oil when they do it. Hundreds of sea turtles have already died from the oil spill, and scientists are worried that many other creatures are threatened.

Many scientists say that one of the most alarming things is how the oil spill will affect the entire marine food web. BP added huge amounts of chemicals called dispersants in the water. Dispersants are used to break up thick oil slicks and prevent the oil from reaching the coast. But so many chemicals were dumped that they are now mixing with water and oil and creating a toxic stew. No one knows how this will affect all the tiny micro-organisms, fish, and crustaceans in the ocean that provide food for birds, whales, dolphins, turtles, and other sea creatures.

Oil in a Jar

Frank Gill, president of Audubon, is worried about the long-term impact: “People depend on fish. Birds depend on fish. And fish depend on clean ocean waters. We are potentially killing the fish stocks and micro-organisms that support the entire marine food web—including birds and all of us!”