Aug 7, 2011 2:29 PM by Chris Welty
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - A new study being conducted by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service aims to determine how many birds may have died
during the Gulf oil spill last year.
The Press-Register in Mobile (http://bit.ly/qD83rW ) reports
that in the "Carcass Drift Study" funded by BP PLC, researchers
are attaching numbered floats to hundreds of bird carcasses and
dropping them in the Gulf to track their paths. Federal officials
have dropped about 250 real carcasses and 65 dummy carcasses in the
water since July 16 along the Gulf between Louisiana and Panama
Researchers hope this study will determine how many dead birds
never made it to shore. Researchers will combine this study with
several others to estimate the total number of birds killed by the
Scientists believe many dead birds are likely to be eaten by
sharks or simply sink into the water.
"So we're looking at what is the probability the carcasses will
come ashore? If they do come ashore, how long will they stay there?
And then, what is the chance the surveyors will find them?" said
PeteTuttle, who is heading up the Natural Resources Damage
Assessment for U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
The project is costing about $1 million.
Mike Pixley with the fish and wildlife service said the
transmitters attached to the carcasses can be detected from about
five miles away. So far, researcher don't know what's happened to
most of the dead birds, he said.
The contraptions attached to the dead birds are small Styrofoam
buoys painted orange and white with tiny transmitters on them. Each
has a phone number printed on it in case someone finds it.