It was a grim week for coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, as what has now been assessed as the largest oil spill in U.S. history washed up on beaches and filtered into sensitive wetlands, including seven of Audubon’s Important Bird Areas. The USFWS tally of oiled birds rose to 400, as Audubon volunteers continued to help shuttle victims to rehabilitation centers. Other Audubon volunteers throughout the gulf region provided the information that will be needed to assess the spill’s impacts and plan for the region’s recovery by observing birds in their backyards and communities and submitting their findings to eBird.org.
But Thursday morning dawned somewhat brighter. There was news that efforts to plug the 37-day leak were promising though the proof will be in the final cementing and sealing. And President Obama provided a critical reprieve for another sensitive area by suspending plans for exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean — a decision that thousands of Audubon Activists helped to spur on. Many thanks to all of you who were among them your voices helped make a difference!
Meanwhile, the devastating toll of the oil spill continues — and the challenges of recovery grow with every gallon. As we all fervently hope that the gusher has spewed its last toxic plume, we must not lose sight of the inevitable long-term impacts on birds, wildlife, sensitive habitat and Gulf communities.
That is why Audubon is so grateful for our volunteers, and for your commitment to both the speedy rescue of the birds already suffering from contact with the oil, and the protection and restoration of Gulf habitat for those who have so far been spared. As the recovery effort moves forward over the months ahead, so will your opportunity to put your passion for wildlife into action.
Audubon continues to deploy volunteers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, and efforts to ramp up volunteer monitoring and other activities are expanding throughout the region. These efforts include students who helped Audubon’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center staff assess water quality to provide a pre-oil baseline measure in anticipation of possible oil impact. Watch the video of their work.
Audubon magazine photographer Kim Hubbard joined Audubon Mississippi and Louisiana staff in Louisiana this week, and her photos, along with blog posts from the rest of the team, tell a compelling story.