News / USA

Gulf Coast Scientists Measure Fish Populations Before Oil Spill Hits

Researchers also race against time to train people to de-oil birds

Multimedia

Nathan King

As oil from the major spill in the Gulf of Mexico reaches land, scientists are in a race against time.

Just off the Alabama coast, on Dauphin Island, researchers are hurrying to take fishing population samples, train people to help de-oil birds and ask hard questions about the containment operation and its effect on the environment.

Race against time

Young scientists are frantically collecting fish as the oil continues to spread.

Scientist are studying fish populations before the oil spill reaches Dauphin Island so they can later determine how the oil spill affects fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientist are studying fish populations before the oil spill reaches Dauphin Island so they can later determine how the oil spill affects fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

They want to get a handle on the size of the fish populations before the damage is done so they can work out later just how the oil spill affects fish stocks in the Gulf of Mexico.

The samples are packed in ice and shipped off to Dauphin Island Sea Lab - a major research facility for marine animals birds and plants.

"People have been scrambling to go out and gather data now, even if it is not on our regular sampling schedule to make sure we have pre-condition information that is really fresh and new and current and that and that we can do the best we can to sort of work as a group and a community to share that information," says Ruth Carmichael, a marine scientist who studies manatees at Sea Lab.

Dauphin Island is home to just over a 1,000 people, but it has more than 350 species of birds. Many of them, like the stately heron, feed on fish and other aquatic life.

Birds at risk

"Just imagine when those birds there are feeding they are diving into the water and so they are going to encounter oil," says John Dindo, Sea Lab's bird expert.

Dindo is preparing for the worst. He says all these birds rely on the sea for their food.

"That is an Osprey, that's a fish hawk. That's a diving bird, dives on fish," he says. "You watch. He'll come up out of water and he will turn into the wind and shake to shed the water."

The oil will make shedding that water very difficult and even a de-oiling effort on this island will have many casualties.

"Even the process of de-oiling birds has a high mortality rate because you are not only going to take off the oil that they encountered in the water but you are taking out their natural oils, and then temperature regulation becomes a very big factor," says Dindo. "So even after you are trying your best to save them, you still have mortality."

Even if the spill doesn't reach land, it affects the ecosystem out in the Gulf. Many larger animals in the water rely on subaquatic vegetation for food. Any measure of the impact will depend on how quickly the flow of oil can be stemmed.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid