What we're doing in the Gulf

Here's how one EarthShare member charity took action in the aftermath of the oil spill crisis. For updates about NFWF's ongoing work in the Gulf, vist the NFWF Gulf Response site!

by Carol Denny, Senior Writer/Publications Manager, NFWF

During the summer of 2010, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico focused public attention on the vulnerability of its wildlife. As the Deepwater Horizon disaster grew, so did the risk to animals—especially sea turtles, shore birds, water birds, and migratory waterfowl.

With a long history of successful conservation projects in the Gulf, NFWF was ready to lead the response to help protect the species endangered by the spill.

For wildlife the timing of the spill couldn’t have been worse. Millions of waterfowl, shorebirds and marsh birds were about to begin their annual migration through the Gulf region, and sea turtles were already laying their eggs along Gulf beaches. NFWF’s response was immediate and effective: to invest in programs that would protect wildlife outside the spill zone so that a healthy population could recover.

NFWF_GulfturtleEGGrescue The Gulf’s sea turtles are considered among the most threatened because of the effect of the oil on their feeding and nesting areas. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the extraordinary decision to excavate hundreds of turtle nests to save hatchlings from certain peril —- one of the largest wildlife re-locations in history —- they asked for NFWF's help. We turned to FedEx, a corporate partner, and arranged a contribution of custom transport for the fragile eggs. (Check out video of the move here.). More than 25,000 eggs were moved from northern Gulf beaches, and to date, more than 15,000 healthy hatchlings have been successfully released on the Atlantic coast.

Today, projects to help rebuild healthy wildlife populations are up and running in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. They’re expanding available habitat areas and food sources for birds across the Gulf. In Florida, NFWF programs are also protecting turtle habitat. 

But this isn’t the end of the story. In the coming months, NFWF will continue to work with state and federal agencies and conservation partners to make timely investments like this one for Gulf wildlife. Our scientists will ensure that our programs deliver real, measureable benefits to the species most affected. And as information on the long-term impact of the spill becomes available, we will address the ongoing needs of Gulf birds and marine life so that species can recover from this devastating event.




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