Effects of Galveston Oil Spill Persist on Texas Coast
While many were happy to see much of the oil slick in Galveston Bay being pushed out into the gulf by wind and weather, this has created additional environmental threats further down the Texas coastline.
The oil that spread out of Galveston Bay was caught in currents that have taken the slick as far down the coast as Matagorda Bay. Today, authorities were working in this mid-coast region of Texas to contain the spill.
Sundown Island (Chester’s Island) in Matagorda Bay is an iconic example of the critical habitat these small islands provide in the overall health of the Gulf ecosystem.
“Sundown Island is a critical colonial waterbird island and globally significant Important Bird Area. Last year it hosted over 13,000 breeding pair of colonial waterbirds including Brown Pelican, Reddish Egret, Snowy Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, and more,” said Iliana Peña, director of conservation for Audubon Texas. “ These waterbirds must forage heavily in and around the bay and into the nearby marshes so it is critical that these sites remain safe and oil free.”
Audubon Texas has evaluated many of the barrier islands within Galveston Bay to assess the damage that has been done to these active rookery sites. So far damage appears to be contained within the immediate vicinity of the accident with several oiled birds washing up on nearby shores.
Response continues in Galveston Bay to clean-up the remaining oil in the water, as well as responding to oiled wildlife. Houston Audubon has shown great leadership in organizing its response to immediate issues on Bolivar Flats, a sanctuary owned by Houston Audubon, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Conservation staff of Houston Audubon report that several dozen oiled birds have been found and are being rehabilitated by the wildlife response team.
Houston Audubon efforts are being coordinated with local emergency response officials to address these issues on the sanctuaries they own that have been hit hardest by the tragedy. For more information on these local efforts, please click here.