AP – A dolphin swims in the Barataria Bay near oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill Wednesday, June 16, 2010, …

A dolphin swims in the Barataria Bay near oil from the Deepwater  Horizon spill Wednesday, June 16, 2010, near Grand Isle, La. (AP  Photo/Charlie Neiber

Slideshow:Animals suffer after oil spill

  • By JAY REEVES, JOHN FLESHER and TAMARA LUSH, Associated Press Writers Jay Reeves, John Flesher And Tamara Lush, Associated Press Writers Thu Jun 17, 12:18 am ET

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.

Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange phenomena.

Fish and other wildlife seem to be fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast in a trend that some researchers see as a potentially troubling sign.

The animals’ presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily be devoured by predators.

“A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable,” said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.

The nearly two-month-old spill has created an environmental catastrophe unparalleled in U.S. history as tens of millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Scientists are seeing some unusual things as they try to understand the effects on thousands of species of marine life.

Day by day, scientists in boats tally up dead birds, sea turtles and other animals, but the toll is surprisingly small given the size of the disaster. The latest figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died — numbers that pale in comparison to what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, when 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters are believed to have died.

Researchers say there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll: The vast nature of the spill means scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals. Many will never be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or getting scavenged by other marine life. And large numbers of birds are meeting their deaths deep in the Louisiana marshes where they seek refuge from the onslaught of oil.

“That is their understanding of how to protect themselves,” said Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Read more…

A massive eruption of odorless methane pours out of the leaking well along with the crude.

Do you think they are concealing the truth at AP about the methane leak? Or was it just a mistake, a blotch that has now been removed?Alternatively, are they or someone behind them attempting to gloss over something that they would rather keep unknown to the general public, at least in the US?
This is all very confuse. There is something here that escapes reason. Who can know the real truth?Note that they already published the following about methane gas back in May 8 (see here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8669535.stm):

Oil workers describe methane ‘explosion’ on Gulf rig

The deadly blast on board an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by an exploding bubble of methane gas, according to a US media report.

Workers on the rig described hearing “screaming and hollering” and said people leapt into the sea to escape.

The accounts came from a BP report into last month’s blast, which has led to thousands of barrels of oil leaking.

Eye-witnesses also said that safety mechanisms did not function and that workers were taken by surprise.

The fresh details about the blast were revealed in interviews with oil rig workers carried out by BP during an internal investigation, Associated Press reports.

The revelations came as a giant funnel was lowered over the oil well in a bid to contain oil leaking from it.

BP said it might take up to 12 hours for the steel-and-concrete containment device to settle in place, but that everything appeared to be going as planned.

It is hoped it will be able to collect as much as 85% of the leaking oil and begin funnelling it to ships above by Monday.

Oil from a slick caused by the leak has washed ashore on islands off Louisiana.

‘Tears of anger’

Fresh details about the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig emerged on Friday. One worker rescued from the rig, Micah Sandell, reportedly said: “There was people screaming and hollering. There was people jumping off the side. I’ve never seen nothing like that. Never.”

Another, Dwayne Martinez, said: “Everybody was scared to death. Nothing went as planned like it was supposed to.”

Mr Martinez continued: “No kind of alarms. We didn’t hear any kind of alarms until there was one explosion.”

The accounts, from BP’s own investigations into the blast last month, describe how the blow-out was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, AP reports.

It rapidly expanded as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, the documents say.

Details of the documents were revealed by Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor, who has worked for BP as a risk assessment consultant.

BP spokesman John Curry would not comment on the events described in the internal documents. “We anticipate all the facts will come out in a full investigation,” he said.

‘Good progress’

US officials announced on Friday that they had closed Breton National Wildlife Refuge to the public after a silver sheen of oil reached the shoreline.

“The refuge closure is important to keep the public safe, to minimise disturbance to nesting colonial sea birds, and to allow personnel conducting cleanup operations and recovery efforts to work safely and efficiently,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said on Friday.

The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani, on Dauphin Island, an inhabited barrier island three miles (5km) off the coast of Alabama, says there is a faint but distinct smell of oil in the air.

Some scientists say the oil may be spread more widely. Small, black particles have been found in samples taken from below the surface, away from the visible slick, our correspondent adds.

An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day has been leaking for 18 days from the well, 50 miles off Louisiana, since an explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig last month, killing 11 workers.

Although the rig was operated by Transocean, it was leased by BP, which is responsible for cleaning the 3 million gallons that have so far leaked, creating a slick covering about 2,000 sq miles (5,200 sq km).

The company hopes the 98-tonne containment device, once operational, will allow it to collect oil leaking out of the well while it attempts to stop the leak altogether by drilling relief wells nearby.

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