A total of 449 sea turtles have been verified from April 30 to June 15 within the designated spill area from the Texas/Louisiana border to Apalachicola, Florida. Between Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, June 15, 12 turtle strandings were verified. The on-water turtle rescue operation led by NOAA, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and other partners working under the Wildlife Branch of the Unified Command captured 7 heavily-oiled turtles Tuesday and brought them ashore for rehabilitation at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans. There are now 85 sea turtles in rehabilitation centers. These include 60 heavily-oiled sea turtles captured as part of the on-water rescue operation and 25 turtles that stranded alive. A total of 75 stranded or captured turtles have had visible evidence of external oil since verifications began on April 30. These include the 66 captured or collected turtles from the on-water operation (60 live turtles, 3 collected dead and 3 that died in rehabilitation), five live stranded turtles (two caught in skimming operations), and four dead stranded sea turtles. All others have not had visible evidence of external oil.
Of the 449 turtles verified from April 30 to June 15, a total of 350 stranded turtles were found dead, 33 stranded alive. Four of those subsequently died. Four live stranded turtles were released, and 25 live stranded turtles are being cared for at rehabilitation centers. Turtle strandings during this time period have been much higher in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle than in previous years for this same time period. This may be due in part to increased detection and reporting, but this does not fully account for the increase.
From April 30 to June 15, 45 stranded dolphins have been verified in the designated spill area, an increase of 2 (both documented in Mississippi) verified since June 14. Of this 45, 43 dolphins stranded dead and two stranded alive. One of those dolphins died on the beach and the other that stranded alive in Florida was euthanized. So far, two of the 45 stranded dolphins had evidence of external oil. However, we are unable at this time to determine whether the animals were externally oiled before or after death. Since April 30, the stranding rate for dolphins in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle has been higher than the historic numbers for the same time period in previous years. In part, this may be due to increased detection and reporting and the lingering effects of an earlier observed spike in strandings for the winter of 2010.
A stranding is defined as a dead or debilitated animal that washes ashore or is found in the water. NOAA and its partners are analyzing the cause of death for the dead stranded and dead captured sea turtles and the stranded marine mammals.
NOAA Deepwater Horizon Incident Information
The NOAA field crew is required to take photographs of the approximately 25-foot whale, collect skin swab for oil analysis, collect blubber and skin samples for analysis, and measure its height in the water. Although the whale is already decomposing, the photographs and samples will help scientists better understand how long it has been dead.
Dead Whale Found in Gulf
H/T Crystalwolf aka Caligrl for this link with picture.
This map shows the extent of the oil in the water in the Gulf and the area's of land impacted with oil as of June 15th
The Oil Spill’s Effects on Life Underwater
Brown pelicans and other seabirds often dive into the oil because the slick makes the water look calmer. If they are coated in oil, they will be unable to regulate their temperatures, leading to hyperthermia.
Plankton, tiny immobile organisms at the base of the food chain, can be killed by chemically dispersed oil.
All four species of sea turtles in the gulf are threatened or endangered. Some have already washed up ashore, and with numbers already low, it would be harder to rebuild the population.
Dolphins, which often follow boats to play, have been following response crews, getting near the slicks.
Shrimp and other shellfish are more vulnerable to oil and chemical dispersants because they are stationary, while some adult fin fish populations may be mobile.
Fish larvae are most at risk. Bluefin tuna, now spawning near the spill, are of particular concern. The Gulf of Mexico is one of only two nurseries in the world for bluefin tuna.
Sperm whales, which spend most of their time diving for prey, may come up in the slick as they reach the surface to breathe.
Inforgraphic on the Effects of the Oil Underwater
Daily Dead Wildlife Tally
Gulf Oil Spill Disaster: Spawn of the Living Dead for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna?
Recently published study, intended to provide data to commercial fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico so they maximize their catch of Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, whilst avoiding bycatch of critically endangered Atlantic (Northern) Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, suggests that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak may devastate the endangered Atlantic bluefin population, causing it to completely collapse or possibly go extinct.
"The population has declined 80 percent to 90 percent of what its original spawning biomass was," said the study's senior author, Barbara Block, a MacArthur Laureate and marine biologist at Stanford University.
Even though it has been illegal to catch Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico for more than 20 years, they are accidentally caught by commercial yellowfin tuna, swordfish and marlin fisheries. To avoid bycatch, it is essential to identify the spatio-temporal locations of bluefin so commercial fisheries can modify their techniques to avoid them.
It is generally known that migratory bluefin enter the Gulf of Mexico to spawn each March and stay through June before returning to the North Atlantic Ocean to forage. These giant fish, which can live to be 30 years old and weigh more than 1,400 pounds each, are thought to be similar to salmon; returning to the same area where they were born to spawn. But it is not known with certainty when nor where these fish are, so avoiding them whilst targeting their close relatives, yellowfin tuna, is not a simple matter.
A team of scientists designed a series of studies to remedy this lack of precise information. Their studies relied on two data sources, both of which required them to .. go fishing. The first data source was catch and effort data reported by fishery observers on commercial longline vessels in the Gulf of Mexico from 1992 through 2005. The second data source was the researchers' own catch and effort data collected during six scientific longline cruises in the Gulf of Mexico between 1998 and 2002, as part of their Tag-A-Giant program. The Tag-A-Giant fishing efforts were conducted for the purpose of placing electronic tags on bluefin tuna, which were then released (using methods shown on this video):
Spawn of the Living Dead for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna?
The Size of the Spill
5,000 to 60,000 barrels a day: Rate at which oil is leaking from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Some experts now believe that original estimates of 5,000 barrels a day (that's 210,000 gallons) were way off. And BP says that it's likely that the leak rate is around 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) a day. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
19 million to 39 million gallons: Amount of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico in the month since the Deepwater Horizon spill. (Source: Huffington Post)
11,300 miles: The distance around the world the current amount of leaked oil would stretch if it was placed in milk jugs lined up side by side. To quantify, that's farther than New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and back. (Source: New York Times)
102: The number of school gymnasiums that could theoretically be filled floor-to-ceiling with oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. (Source: New York Times)
130 miles long and 70 miles wide: Size of the oil slick as of May 17. The slick continues to grow and move. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune)
11: Number of workers missing and presumed dead following the BP rig explosion. (Source: Huffington Post)
The Clean Up
436,000 gallons: Number of gallons of dispersant sprayed on the oil spill to break it up. Thus far, around 4 million gallons of oily water have been recovered. (Source: AP)
50,000 barrels of "heavy mud": Amount of mud used in BP's "top kill" method of stopping the flow of leaking oil. The mud is to be forced into the leaking well in order to overcome the oil and stop its flow. This method has been used before but never at the depths of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. (Source: Guardian)
12,000: Number of Louisiana residents who have filed for unemployment since the spill, most of which have come from the southern part of the state most closely impacted by the spill. (Source: Daily Finance)
$300 million: Estimated cost to BP to plug up the leaking oil spill, not including environmental cleanup costs. (Source: New York Times)
$5 to $42 million: Range of BP's estimated fines, per day. On the low end, is the cost based on BP's conservative estimate of 1,000 barrels a day being lost. On the high end, an estimate of 14,000 barrels a day, which is generally considered a more accurate estimate of the leak. As of May 26, this means that BP could be fined anywhere between $37 million to $1.5 billion. (Source: House of Representatives)
$75 million: The government-mandated cap on oil company liability. Some representatives are calling for the cap to be lifted and a new $10 billion dollar cap be put in place. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
$1.5 billion: Amount in insurance claims experts believe the BP spill will cost insurers. (Source: Business Week)
The Threat to Life
400: Number of wildlife species threatened by the spill. Threatened species include sea life such as whales, tuna and shrimp; dozens of species of birds; land animals such as the gray fox and white-tailed deer; and amphibians such as the alligator and the snapping turtle. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune)
At least 30: Species of birds the Audubon Society says are potentially threatened by the oil spill. These include marsh birds, ocean-dwelling birds and migratory songbirds. All reside in "Important Bird Areas," according to Audubon, designated because of their "essential habitat value." Among the most vulnerable species is the brown pelican -- the state bird of Louisiana -- which was only recently removed from the endangered species list. The spill is especially devastating for bird populations because it coincides with the beginning of breeding season. (Source: Audubon Society)
25 million: Number of birds that traverse the Gulf Coast per day, and which are potentially at risk from the oil spill. According to the LA Times Greenspace Blog, "Late spring is the peak time for neo-tropical songbirds moving from the Yucatan Peninsula to make their first landfall in Louisiana," and "more than 70% of the country's waterfowl frequent the gulf's waters." (Source: LA Times Greenspace Blog)
11 million: Number of gallons of oil leaked into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez oil leak. It is widely considered the worst oil spill in U.S. history, although a number of larger spills have happened around the world, most notably the 2002 Prestige spill off Spain. (Source: CBS News)
400: Number of oil projects illegally approved for operation in the Gulf of Mexico under Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the oil surveys and drilling operations threaten marine mammal life in the region. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)
Background on the Gulf Oil Spill
27: Number of offshore gulf drilling operations approved since the BP spill. Two of those were awarded to BP. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)
30 percent: Percent of the nation's oil production derived from the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: E2 Wire)
1 billion: Number of gallons of oil spilled into the oceans each year, Gulf of Mexico spill notwithstanding. (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)
137.8 billion gallons: Amount of gasoline Americans consumed in 2008, down 3% from 2007. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration)
19.5 million barrels: Amount of oil consumed in the United States per day. (Source: CIA Country Handbook 2008)
2,300 square miles: Number of miles of historic Louisiana coastal marsh and cypress forest (out of 7,000) that have been compromised due to oil drilling. (Source: Environmental Defense Fund)
The Daily Green Gulf Of Mexico Fact Sheet