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Oil is spewing into the Gulf 20 at 4 million gallons/day 19 times the rate estimated by BP based on the surface slick. That means that about 95% of the oil is underwater. However, that 5% is a large amount of oil, enough to cause a catastrophe in the Louisiana marshes.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and La. Gov. Bobby Jindal tour through the Roseau Grasses that mark the coastline of Southeast Louisiana at Pass a Loutre at the mouth of the Mississippi River where oil has washed ashore, Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

Photo by Ted Jackson, The Times-Picayune

"Everything that that blanket of oil is covering today will die," he said. "All of the bugs that the fish come in to eat, all of the critters in the marsh will die. And that marsh will die. There's no way to clean it up."

The new videos released yesterday showed evidence of an additional 25,000 barrels a day gushing from the smaller leak. The total amount of oil gushing into the Gulf is now estimated to be 95,000 barrels a day, 19 times BP's estimate of 5,000 barrels.

The latest video footage of the leaking Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico show that oil is escaping at the rate of 95,000 barrels — 4 million gallons — a day, nearly 20 times greater than the 5,000 barrel a day estimate BP and government scientists have been citing for nearly three weeks, an engineering professor told a congressional hearing Wednesday.

Steve Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, earlier this month made simple calculations from a video BP released on May 12 and came up with a flow of 70,000 barrels a day, NPR reported last week. Werely on Wednesday told a House Commerce and Energy Committee subcommittee that his calculations of two leaks that show up on videos BP released on Tuesday showed 70,000 barrels from one leak and 25,000 from the other

The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle which lives only in the Gulf barely survived a blow out in 1979. Turtle numbers have gradually recovered to 8,000. However, the BP spill threatens the Kemp's Ridley with extinction.

Federal officials said Tuesday that since April 30, 10 days after the accident on the Deepwater Horizon, they have recorded 156 sea turtle deaths; most of the turtles were Kemp’s ridleys. And though they cannot say for sure that the oil was responsible, the number is far higher than usual for this time of year, the officials said.

As recently as the 1940s, they were abundant in the Mexican gulf waters. Tens of thousands at a time would come ashore on the same day at Rancho Nuevo, a remote Mexican beach in Tamaulipas State, to lay their eggs in the synchronized pattern unique to their breed. But pollution, the collection of eggs for food and aphrodisiacs and the nets of shrimp trawlers depleted their numbers.

Then came the blowout on the Ixtoc 1. The deepwater well dumped three million barrels of crude into the gulf, covering the beach at Rancho Nuevo. Nine thousand hatchlings had to be airlifted to nearby beaches. Although the role of the oil in killing the turtles was never confirmed, by 1985, there were fewer than 1,000 Kemp’s ridleys left.

Oil is also threatening to the brown pelican that just came off the endangered species list.

The brown pelican is particularly at risk because it dives beneath the water's surface to forage. Not only could pelicans eat tainted fish and feed it to their young, but their feathers could become oil-soaked, causing hypothermia or drowning.

Officials say they don't know the death toll from the spill, although state wildlife veterinarian James LaCour said 10 oil-soaked bird carcasses have been found in Louisiana.
Three oily brown pelicans have been found alive. Two other pelicans have turned up dead, but the cause is uncertain. News

Originally posted to FishOutofWater on Wed May 19, 2010 at 05:57 PM PDT.

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