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Today, six months from the day the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded 42 miles off the Louisiana shore, much is still unknown about the effects of the nation's biggest oil spill, which gushed for 95 continuous days and spilled nearly 200 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. (See a visual timeline of the oil spill.)

An estimated 20 percent of Atlantic bluefin tuna, spawned this year in the Gulf of Mexico, died because of BP's oil spill according to an assessment based on satellite images.

The European Space Agency, in league with the Ocean Foundation, reached that conclusion after collecting satellite images and other data from the start of the spill on Apr. 20 until Aug. 29. The nearly-200 million gallon spill occurred at the height of the spawn and affected one of two areas in which the tuna spawn.

Already under great stress because of overfishing and the impacts of longline fishing, the oil spill has put the tuna in such peril that the National Marine Fisheries Service is conducting its own year-long study into whether it should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
 

Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazer lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling and declared the Gulf of Mexico "open for business."

We presume he was talking to the folks at BP, Exxon, and Shell—not so much to shrimp fishermen like Clint Guidry.

Like his father and grandfather before him, the 62-year-old Guidry has worked in Louisiana's shrimp industry for most of his adult life. But he simply doesn't know what the future holds for the family business.

Only days before BP's oil well blew in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar was on the Gulf Coast wearing a 10-gallon cowboy hat and preaching the good news about oil drilling in the Gulf. Soon after his sermon, Salazar was eating those words, hat in hand, as millions of gallons of oil flooded coastal waters.

As animal births go, sea turtles arguably top the cuteness scale. Watching a hundred teeny turtles emerge from the sand, scrambling straight towards the sea in a gleeful mad dash for the future is nothing short of incredible:

From the sandy shore, each season’s new hatchlings embark on the same journey that their forebearers have made for more than a hundred million years. This year, though, there was a 200-million gallon surprise lying in wait for Alabaman and South Floridian hatchlings: the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

We are all familiar with the North-South divide that prevented agreement on a new climate treaty at Copenhagen last year. Relying on the principles of "Common But Differentiated Responsibility," the developing countries led by China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and South Africa refused to adopt any proposal that would require them to reduce carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the developed countries, most significantly the U.S., adamantly opposed any deal that would leave out these countries' large and growing contributions to the global climate problem.

Cancer-causing substances have been discovered in the waters and air of the Gulf of Mexico near the BP oil spill area, at levels much greater than before the spill occurred, according to researchers from Oregon State University.

Increased levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs—some of which are known carcinogens—were found along the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, but the greatest increase was off Louisiana, where levels measured 40-times greater than before the spill. Ominously, the substances are available to be taken into the food chain.

The measurements were recorded in May and June, during the height of the BP oil spill, when hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf each day. New measurements are now being taken to see if degradation of the PAHs is taking place.

It turns out you really can get a free lunch—at least, if you're a great white shark.

A group (or, a shiver, if you prefer a more alliterative group name) of sharks found themselves presented with just such an unexpected buffet earlier this month, when a 36-foot Brydes whale (Balaenoptera edeni) was found drifting off the coast of South Africa.

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