New Orleans' Brown Pelicans - Ultimate Survivors, From 'Silent Spring' to Gulf Oil Disaster
May 27 marked the anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson, celebrated author and wildlife conservationist. When her book Silent Spring was first published in 1962, New Orleans state bird, the Brown Pelican was on the verge of extinction, due to pesticides and pollution. Almost 50 years later, that same bird faces a similar fate from another man-made disaster.
Plagued by hunters and fishermen, driven to near-extinction by chemical pollutants, the brown pelican has survived a century of human abuse - only to face another challenge from the giant oil spill threatening to devastate the Gulf of Mexico's marine habitats.
Ironically, the brown pelican, New Orleans state bird was recently removed by the Endangered Species list last November. Brown pelicans are the only species of pelican that dive into the water for fish, putting them at the greatest risk of death by oil suffocation.
From nesting sites at the Breton and Delta National Wildlife Refuges on the Louisiana coastline, today's pelicans are enduring the toxic aftermath of millions of gallons of oil released from the Deepwater Horizon rig catastrophe. Government officials estimate that roughly 83 to 182 million liters of oil have leaked into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion.
"Rachel Carson reminded us that all life is connected, and that breaking the threads that make up the web of life can have tragic consequences," said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "The BP disaster puts not only the human communities of the Gulf coast at great risk, but also the natural communities on which all human life depends. Our coastal National Wildlife Refuges are crucial ecosystems that play a key role in protecting the livelihoods and health of Gulf coast residents."
As a result of Carson's book, millions of pelicans were saved. Today, her memory is a reminder to all of us that her efforts to save one of our wildlife natural treasures was not done in vain - and that we all need to address this issue on a local, state and federal level. President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement of a six-month moratorium on all new offshore drilling is just a start. Additional governmental oversight is required - see related article titled, "The Semantic Web As Big Brother Could Have Prevented The BP Oil Disaster."
To save the pelicans and wildlife in the Gulf region, there are many organizations that are doing excellent work in this area. Help support National Wildlife Federation's on-the-ground volunteer and restoration efforts by donating to their Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund or text "WILDLIFE" to 20222 to donate $10
For more about how you can help, check out their Web site, and share this blog with with your friends and followers. If you would like an alternative to donating by mobile phone, you can donate online and receive all the benefits of an NWF membership.