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Oil Spill Doesn't Seem To Have Major Impact on Gulf Islands National Seashore's Nesting Shorebirds


Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster doesn't seem to have had a significant impact on nesting black skimmers on West Ship Island in Gulf Islands National Seashore. NPS photo.

While there was great concern that the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe would have significant impacts on wildlife that rely on the national seashores that line the Gulf of Mexico, there seems to have been little effects on nesting black skimmers at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

According to seashore officials, West Ship Island’s colony of nesting black skimmers and gull-billed terns had a successful year with normal numbers of fledglings. When the beach was contaminated by oil, officials and biologists feared it would lead to fatalities among the hatchlings, they add, but note that though some chicks have been found to have small amounts of oil on them, they appear to be thriving.

According to Wendy Crouse, the National Park Service biological science technician monitoring the colony, a few chicks were found with oil on them and three from the West Ship Island colony were sent to a recovery center. She said the nest area on West Ship Island is the best habitat within Gulf Islands National Seashore for these birds. This is largely due to the lack of raccoons, which prey on eggs and chicks, and the expanse of open areas and dunes available to nesting birds.

The nesting areas are marked by signs and flagging and clean-up crews have worked carefully around them so incubating birds are not disturbed and the surrounding habitat is clean when the chicks leave the nest. Barring a significant reintroduction of oil by the tide, having a near normal success rate of reproduction by these beautiful shore birds is a hopeful sign.


I am an avid "collector" of National Parks, almost have made it to every park once and am now working on doubling them up. I enjoy the Traveller but today I am disappointed that Traveller would run a peice without any further insight or forsight into the long term damage of this oil spill. I have spent a season in Alaska, Seward for 6 months, and have seen the long term devastion that an area thought "saved" by oil actually in time goes thru. thanx Travller for taking the pressure off BP by releasing a statement prematurely which would help in their efforts to mitigate their responsibility. Things look "good" right now, a few droplets of oil, but wait as that oil destroys thier food chain in time, then after giving BP their slap on the back will you retract this statement.

You're a bit overly critical, Anonymous. As the story points out, these are just the current conditions that are being observed, not the final word on what might occur down the road.

do not beleive one can ever be overly critical when it comes to a disaster of this magnatude... just pointing out that an article of this tone sounds as if the BP responsibility and the effects are minimal, when in fact the truly critical damage has just begun to unfold... the NPS should be puuting the thumb screws to those &%$^$#!*... and for every marine mammal, pelagic sea bird, fish that perishes they need to be reminded... the Traveller should remain commited to protecting and preserving, instead of patronizing and letting BP off the hook, and that's how the article reads... You do do a great job, I am an avid reader and do participate. I think the site is awesome but this article is objectionable in it's tone...

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