photo credit Discovery News via National Geographic and Chris Combs
"According to conservationists, some well-meaning cleanup crews who unknowingly walk into nesting habitat may be doing more harm than the oil itself, experts say."
It's always a little heartbreaking when people who mean well do more damage than good. But that is exactly what's happening in snowy plover and least tern habitat in Pensacola, Florida. 44,300 people are working on de-oiling the shores from the Deepwater Horizon spill, and with so many people about, adults are being frightened away from their nests and chicks are getting inadvertently trampled. Eggs that are abandoned will literally cook in the sun, and some birds aren't coming back at all.
Heavy machines scooping up large quantities of sand might further the problem. This method removes sand-dwelling animals such as tiny crabs and amphipods - species that the birds depend on for food.
So, in short, already endangered birds may be left with no chicks and no food...and that can't possibly be good.
Said Riley Hoggard, a resource-management specialist for Gulf Islands National Seashore:
"Our bigger responsibility is to the [wildlife], whether it's to a turtle nest or nesting shorebirds. If we have to get cleanup teams off the beach, we'll do that—and deal with the oil cleanup later."
Full article here (Discovery News)