Monday, June 28, 2010

Pelicans in the Jaws of Disaster

Brown pelicans, once endangered, are now at risk again; this time from the BP oil spill. Like many of you, I am sickened by the photos coming out of the Gulf.

Brown pelicans also battle for survival with fishermen who call them “pesky” and compete with them for some of the same fish. Many of these anglers carelessly leave their fish lines behind tangled in the mangroves, estuaries and waterways where pelicans live and breed. Some of these birds succumb in a fatal death struggle to escape the lines wrapped around their wings and feet.

I have observed these fascinating birds; painted them and drawn them. They may be awkward on land, but their patterns in flight are elegant and graceful. Their feeding dives are ruthless and straightforward when they spot a mullet’s scales shimmering beneath the water’s surface.

Living near the coastal waters of Southern Florida, I not only worry about the pelicans, but the other wildlife that abound here: sea turtles currently nesting on our beaches, herons, egrets, ibis, gulls, wading birds, dolphins, manatees, alligators, crocodiles and countless other seabirds and animals. I’m afraid the oil may reach our shores, and it could be deadly for them and to the hundreds of brown pelicans that call these waters home.

Our fabulous seafood, harvested, caught, and eaten in our wonderful restaurants, our entire way of life will slowly and steadily come to a screeching halt if we don’t find a way to stop this man-made disaster. Yet, all it seems we can do is pray.

You may want to read my article: “Mangroves at Risk—an Oily Predicament” by Carol Allen Anfinsen at