While the government is crowing about the amount of oil it says has vanished from the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, the oil that remains is making things rough for the wildlife in the area.
The average daily number of oiled birds being collected dead or alive by rescue workers is now nearly double what is was before BP managed to plug the ruptured oil well, up to 71 from the previous 37, according to wildlife officials. Sea turtles have fared even worse: more oiled turtles have been recovered during the past 10 days than in the three months when the spill was still in progress.
The risk to wildlife from the BP spill is far greater than it might be in other areas, because the Gulf Coast is a breeding or nesting area for many species of birds, turtles and other wildlife. One of the saddest things rescue workers are seeing are fledgling birds, just beginning to test their wings, landing in oily patches where they end up covered in oil.
The area is also an important stop for hundreds of migratory species.
Before the well was capped, 56 percent of oiled birds were recovered alive, but that figure has fallen to 41 percent in recent days.
As of Friday, August 6 , 1,794 oiled birds have been recovered alive compared to 1,642 that died. A total of 428 oiled sea turtles have been recovered, more than half of those in the past 10 days, and only 17 have died. There have been other turtle deaths related to the oil spill that were not a direct result of the animals being covered with oil.