Pictures: Heavy Oil Seeping Into Louisiana Marshes
Photograph by Gerald Herbert, AP
Oil sticks to cane, a type of plant found in Gulf of Mexico marshes, on the Mississippi River on Tuesday.
In addition to killing seabirds, the oil spill is likely harming other animals less visible to the public, John "Wes" Tunnell, associate director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, said by email in early May.
Infauna, or small organisms such as clams and tubeworms that live in ocean sediments, are vital food sources for shorebirds and other coastal animals.
After the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the area's infauna were reduced by up to 90 percent, Tunnell said—a potential reason many bird species left the area in the wake of the nine-month-long spill.
Published May 19, 2010
Font: Blog National Geografic