Joao Talocchi writes from the Gulf of Mexico, where our ground team has been documenting the impacts of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster. Whoooops, this post was written on the 16th but after a long day on the boats and a visit to the bird rehabilitation center, I forgot to publish it. More coffee next time.
Today we visited one of the Bird Rehabilitation Centers in Louisiana. We saw dozens of birds, from different species, cleaned of oil with detergent, water and toothbrushes and tagged. They are monitored and then released to the wild. The center has treated and release more then 500 birds so far, a small number if you take into account that more then 550 miles (885Km) of shoreline has been impacted by the Deep Water Horizon disaster.
But the worst is still to come. As we enter summer, hundreds of thousands migratory birds will use the marshes and waters of the Gulf as a pit stop on their way to other areas of the Gulf and South America. Many different species of song birds and water fowls will feed and rest on the impacted areas and be affected by the oil that will remain there. For example, if the species that are responsible for spreading seeds of trees in the Amazon are affected by the spill during their migration, the spill in the Gulf could result in impacts to the Amazon forest. We have to remember that, as ecosystems are closely linked, so are the impacts they suffer.
Today BP announced that it has finally closed the well. But even if the tests that are being conducted now show that's true, and not one more drop of oil is spilled, we have no idea how long it will take to recover form this tragedy. The migratory birds are only one of many examples of the long term impacts of BP’s disaster. The 550 million litres of oil that gushed from the Macondo well will continue to impact the Gulf, for years to come.
When I got into university, my father said: "You did no more then your obligation”. Whenever BP seals the well, it will not have accomplished any more then its obligation. The people and wildlife of the Gulf are just beginning an arduous and long journey in the attempt to deal with the mess made by big oil. To avoid other disasters like this, we need a permanent ban on offshore drilling and to ramp up the use of clean, safe renewable energies and the development of technologies that will end the world’s addiction to oil.