Sound recordist and photographer, Gerrit Vyn, went with a crew from the Cornell Lab to film and photograph birds in the Gulf of Mexico right after the Deep Horizon oil spill in April 2010. They visited the marshes and the barrier islands that host amazing concentrations of pelicans and terns and nesting black skimmers. We're not really going to know how that's going to affect them right away. Ingesting a lot of oil can affect birds' reproduction and other aspects of their biology.
Gulf Oil Spill – One Year Later
This is BirdNote!
[Waves and flock of Sanderlings]
Sound recordist and photographer, Gerrit Vyn, was sent with a crew from the Cornell Lab to film and photograph birds in the Gulf of Mexico right after the Deep Horizon oil spill in April 2010. Here’s what he saw:
:28 The marshes are incredibly extensive and the barrier islands there are hosting these amazing concentrations of pelicans and terns, nesting black skimmers… and when we were there during migration, birds from all over the North American continent were using these barrier islands…
6:36 Long-billed Curlews and Marbled Godwits from the prairies of the western United States. … Sanderlings and Red Knots from the high Arctic … Western Sandpipers from the Bering Sea region of Alaska… Least Sandpipers from the Boreal Forest.
Gerrit and team went back six months later.
2:42 On the surface, everything looked much better – there wasn’t oil in the water that you could see. …but you know, when you got down and really took a closer look, there was still oil in the sand. …And we did find … migratory shorebirds – Sanderlings and Least Sandpipers, that had been walking through some of this old oil and they basically … they looked like they had snowshoes on their feet. … …everything they walked across was sticking to ’em…
So what do we know now, about how the birds are faring?
4:50 Most of the birds that had oil on ‘em were either ingesting oil or they had limited amounts of oil on their body. So we’re not really going to know how that’s going to affect them right away. Ingesting a lot of oil can affect birds’ reproduction and other aspects of their biology.
9:26 One positive to take out of the oil spill is just the amount of attention that’s been put on the Mississippi Delta region and how important and how imperiled that region already was.
[Waves and Sanderlings]
There’s more to learn at BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
Sounds of the Sanderlings provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by R.S. Little.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2011 Tune In to Nature.org April 2011 Narrator: Michael Stein