A month after the oil gusher was capped at the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, response teams continue to collect oiled or injured animals in the disaster's wake — and the casualties continue to mount. Animals are dying not just in the water, but also in captivity.
A consolidated Deepwater Horizon Response report from Sept. 30 shows that since disaster response began in April, wildlife agencies have collected 8,130 birds, 1,124 sea turtles and 105 mammals. Of those totals, 6,104 birds, 593 turtles and 98 mammals were found dead, and 2,076 birds, 534 turtles and nine mammals were collected alive. Those that survived capture and were successfully rehabilitated and released include 1,122 birds, 316 turtles and only three mammals. (The release of a bottlenose dolphin scheduled for Oct. 1 has been postponed until later this week, according to the Audubon Nature Institute, which has cared for the 2-year-old dolphin at its Audubon Aquatics Center.)
That means that of those animals collected alive, 840 birds, 218 turtles and eight mammals are not reflected in the report. According to Charna Lefton, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, those animals are not in the report because they either died in captivity from injuries (related to oil or not) or were euthanized after they were determined "not candidates for release." Some birds and mammals are under long-term care and have yet to be released. — Alex Woodward