Volunteers Maintain Vigil Over Gulf’s Precious Places

0 12/7/2010 // By Jenna Peters

As the National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Coast Volunteer Coordinator, I receive regular reports from our network of volunteers along the Gulf of Mexico monitoring impacts of the Gulf oil disaster.

Even though it’s been more than seven months since the Deepwater Horizon sank off the coast of Louisiana, our volunteers remain vigilant!

As Dr. Doug Inkley, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior scientist who’s made multiple trips to the Gulf, has warned:

“The Exxon Valdez disaster was not simply one ecosystem earthquake – the aftershocks have continued to this day. What tremors are still to come in the Gulf?  The aftershocks of the Gulf oil disaster will continue to cast a long shadow of uncertainty on the Gulf ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it for years to come.”

From the first days of the disaster, the National Wildlife Federation has had tremendous response from volunteers ready to locally engage.

It is crucial to gain accurate information and thanks to our volunteers we’ve been able to gain information on the exact locations of oil sightings, oiled wildlife, and more.

I look forward to my daily emails with dedicated volunteers, not just for the information they report but for their passion for their work.  Since reporting began, we have received thousands of pictures and stories as our volunteers observe areas in the Gulf.

Reporting from Mississippi, volunteer Eric Richards describes his experience:

“The area that I have observed is from the Mississippi coast out 12 miles and from the Alabama line westward approx. 25 miles.  I have learned more about the interdependencies between all marine life.   As far as the spill’s effects, there has been little VISIBLE damage seen in the area that I observe.  What I do not know is what has happened at the macro level.  These impacts may not be visible for months or years later. I feel that the observations are important by people like me who can help the scientific community zero in on areas that are showing changes over time.

“The most noticeable damage was a slug of oil that entered a 7 acre pond on Horn Island and affected approx. one acre of marsh grass.  I have been observing this spot since the contamination months ago and have been pleased to see that the marsh still appears to be healthy except for the oil stains.  Marine life is still plentiful in this area.”

To learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s response to the Gulf oil disaster, visit NWF.org/OilSpill. You can also sign up to stay informed about oil spill volunteer opportunities.

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