BP Is Definitely the Devil: So Do We Kill These Oil-Covered Birds or What?


This is what we know: BP ruined everything and will forever be stained by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (It’s still going.) Also stained? All of the poor animals whose homes and lives we (but mostly BP) ruined with our nasty oil habit. Which leads us to what we don’t know: Is it worth it to try cleaning all of the innocent birds (pelicans, egrets, etc.) who’ve been bathing in crude brown for nearly 50 days? Or should we just put them out of their misery? Scientists are wondering the same thing.

By now you’ve surely seen the horrifying images of the havoc wreaked on ecosystems across the Gulf Coast — the dead fish coated completely, the birds struggling to fly — and all of the visuals (check The Big Picture and Life) are helpful in putting this unfathomable disaster into perspective. But reading the What Now discussion will bring out the animal activist in anyone. It might make you cry.

The Times, too, has an examination of the animal toll, detailing the case of the brown pelican, recently off the endangered list and now drowning in oil.

Most of the birds were so thoroughly coated in crude that they could not stand up. Some were stuck to the floor of their cages. Workers wiped off thick globs of oil with towels, then gave them fluids and fed them a fish slurry.

Sad face. Surely everyone wants to help these creatures, but the reality is that it might be futile:

“Kill, don’t clean,” recommends Silvia Gaus, a biologist at NationalPark Wattenmeer (Wadden Sea National Park) in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Unfortunately, despite some short-term success in cleaning birds and releasing them into the wild, few, if any, have a chance of surviving even for a few months, reports Ms Gaus, who has worked as a biologist for 20 years.

Described as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum, there are some who still advocate cleaning, especially of “lightly oiled” birds. Lightly oiled is like semi-definitely fucked. But hey, the more you know.