Friday, September 10, 2010

Loose Feathers #255

Great Egret / Photo by Rosie Walunas (USFWS)

Birds and birding news
Birds in the blogosphere
Oil Spill
  • An internal report created by BP found eight mistakes by BP and its contractors that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. However, the report concluded that the design of the well was sound. BP's contractors – Halliburton and Transocean – denounced the report for not admitting design flaws. One interesting admission is that, prior to the explosion, oil was flowing from the well up the riser pipe at a rate between 86,400 and 100,800 barrels a day.
  • Here is part 2 of a comparison of the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills, as told by a wildlife rehabilitator who worked at both. (Part 1 was linked in last week's Loose Feathers.)
Environment and biodiversity
  • A USGS study found that the Potomac River has twice as much sub-aquatic vegetation as it did in 1990, and the area covered by native sub-aquatic vegetation has increased by a factor of ten over the same period. Sub-aquatic vegetation is crucial to a river's health because it filters pollutants and provides shelter for aquatic animals. Combined with improvements to the Blue Plains sewage plant, this means that the Potomac's water is cleaner than it has been in years.
  • The tar sands mining operations in Alberta, Canada, are serving as a model for other areas that want to develop unconventional petroleum reserves as conventional oil sources become more scarce. Unconventional sources such as tar sands, shale oil, and extra heavy crude tend to be more difficult to extract and refine, and they release more carbon when burned.
  • Nancy Pelosi and Edward Markey were in Canada this week to meet with supporters of oil sands mining and environmental groups there. The U.S. government will need to decide whether to permit a pipeline from Alberta to Texas to carry oil from the province.
  • Organisms engage in mimicry for many reasons, including predation and defense from predation.
  • The Dragonfly Woman: Migratory Dragonfly Species – Less Common Species
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