I feel a little bit out of my league with this topic but its something that I knew I wanted to put in my environmental series Footprints. Oil spills have an obvious impact on marine and wildlife habitats in both physical and toxic terms. In researching this topic, one spill that kept coming up continually was the BP spill in the gulf of Mexico in 2010. It was the worst oil spill disaster ever seen by the USA which included 11 lives lost. Four years later oil is still being found on the beaches of Louisiana and Florida.
Since I’ve used birds as the victims of an oil spill in this photo I will focus on the issues they face when a spill occurs in their habitat.
The first is the obvious weight of the oil on their feathers. There are trained experts who are called in to clean them but if they’ve cleaned themselves in the meantime then they’ve ingested harmful chemicals into their bodies which poisons them. The other major issue, that was new to me, is that the oil destroys their insulating abilities. Without the ability to repel water, birds and mammals typically end up dying from hypothermia.
Birds are just one of the many creatures affected when either an accidental or deliberate spill occurs. Yes, I said deliberate – some ship’s dump their bilge oil or “waste oil” on purpose!
I had planned to shoot this photo on a beautiful black beach in Iceland. I had laid out every detail, even packing cartons of molasses in my suitcase just in case Icelanders didn’t have molasses! But this is where even the best laid plans fall apart sometimes. The wind was over 100km/hr and to the point that we could barely stand. Below you’ll find some BTW scenes photos of my “assistants.” As a result this shot had to be done in stages because there was no way my camera was going to survive sitting on a tripod in those winds.
Alas, this is the resulting photo – I hope you enjoy it!
Articles to further read on oil spills –