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Migrating birds threatened by Texas oil spill after barge and ship collide

Migratory shorebirds like this one are threatened by today's oil spill off the coast of Texas near Galveston.
Migratory shorebirds like this one are threatened by today's oil spill off the coast of Texas near Galveston.
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Migratory birds at the peek of their mating season are threatened by today's huge oil spill off the coast of Texas near Galveston, according to ABC News on March 23. Between 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds migrate to the impacted coastline every spring, and every bird that is rescued will have to have its wings and feathers thoroughly cleaned, a very long, arduous process. It is not known at this time how many of the birds will die as a result of the spill.

The oil spill occurred when a barge carrying nearly one million gallons of oil collided with a cargo ship early on Sunday. As a result of the collision, a busy ocean transportation thoroughfare in the Gulf of Mexico is blocked, impeding the movement of thirty-four vessels, three of which are passenger ships.

Ironically the Texas oil spill came just one day before the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez disaster off the coast of Prince William Sound, Alaska on March 24, 1989. That spill, which involved more than eleven million gallons of oil, occurred while the ship's captain, Joe Hazelwood, was sleeping. Exxon settled with the federal government for $900 plus a $25 million criminal fine and $100 in restitution. It took four summers to clean up the spill off the coast of Alaska. The United States Justice Department and the State of Alaska still are waiting for a $92 million claim payment from Exxon for the rescue of migratory birds, fish and marine life.

It is unknown what the full impact of today's spill off the coast of Texas will be. In the meantime, however, a huge, sticky mess has to be cleaned up and tens of thousands of shoreline birds and other migratory birds will have to be rescued. Jim Suydam of the Texas General Land Office said it best:

"That stuff is terrible to have to clean up."

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