Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill Threatens Blue Carbon Ecosystems

Gulf Oil Spill Threatens Natural Wildlife Areas
Endangered species, waterfoul, coastal communities and the climate change mitigation potential of coastal wetlands threatened as oils slick moves closer to land

April 29 / Miami FL / Fears are escalating of coastal impacts on the Mississippi Delta and neighboring areas despite the Coast Guard setting the oil spill on fire on Wednesday.  Apparently, early reports grossly underestimated the volume of the spill and the wind is strengthening in the wrong direction, towards land.

The oil spill may first impact the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area, which together encompass 164,000 acres of pristine coastal marsh habitat located at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  This area is known for lush vegetation and multitude of fish, waterfowl and animals.  Endangered and Threatened Species found there include American alligator, brown pelican, Arctic peregrine falcon and piping plover.

The coastal marshlands also serve as a natural carbon sink, storing and absorbing atmospheric carbon through biomass production and sediment trapping, therefore helping to mitigate climate change.  This ability may be impaired by oil contamination.

The value of coastal ecosystems in mitigating climate change was recognized by nine U.S. Senators, in their sponsorship of marine habitat language included in the Clean Energy Partnerships Act earlier this year.

The cost of oil cleanup in marshlands is expected to be high.  The oil spill also threatens the barrier islands of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, tourism along beaches in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, as well as commercial oyster and shrimp fisheries.

Oil slick reported within 8 miles of coastline on Wednesday, April 28, 2010.
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April 30 / This blog was edited to include the Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area. Thanks for the comment! -Steven