The Hidden Toll


Think Progress is keeping track of the wildlife impacted by the spill:

As of yesterday, 874 animals (birds, sea turtles, other mammals, and reptiles) had been collected dead in the affected area. Another 466 had been collected with alive, but visibly oiled. Some new pictures from the AP, including dead sea turtles, fish, and birds, as well as pelican chicks discolored by oil [are here]

John Collins Rudolf calls that the tip of the iceberg:

The number of carcasses recovered is important, as it will play a role in determining the liability BP faces under federal law. But this number should not be mistaken for the true impact on wildlife. Past history teaches that the great majority of birds that die after exposure to spills simply disappear into the ecosystem. And as Louisiana’s marshes are significantly more difficult terrain to negotiate than the beaches of Prince William Sound [during the Exxon Valdez spill], it should be no surprise that the confirmed bird death toll remains unusually low.

(Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)