Worst Effects of Gulf Oil Spill Yet To Come

Main body of oil a hovering threat to endangered tuna, turtles

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Although oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has been washing onto gulf coast beaches since Thursday, the main body of oil—perhaps the size of Puerto Rico and growing by at least 200,000 gallons a day—remains a looming, ominous offshore threat. Check out this New York Times map graphic showing how the spill is spreading.>

Onshore, clean-up efforts are assembling in four states, preparing for the worst-case scenario of heavy oil invading wetlands and feeding/breeding/birthing areas for more than 400 animal species, including endangered and threatened turtles that come ashore at this time of year to lay eggs.If there is any good news out of the spill, it is this: a necropsy on 25 dead sea turtles shows no connection to the oil spill.>

But, offshore there is only speculation at this point about what damage is being done to wildlife. The oil is spread across waters where the endangered western Atlantic bluefin tuna breed at this time of year, releasing their eggs to float in the currents. Earthjustice has fought for years to protect both the tuna and sea turtles.

Some wildlife deaths tied to the oil are being reported, mostly birds that are washing ashore and perhaps some sea turtles, but the spill’s true, lethal effects are still developing. We will update this blog as reports become available. For local information, check out the Gulf Restoration Network website.

From 2006–2014, Terry was managing editor for Earthjustice's blog, online monthly newsletter and print Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.