DWH Natural Resource Damage Assessment Injury Assessment


Rescuing an oiled pelican

The Trustees' injury assessment includes hundreds of scientific studies. We looked at a variety of Gulf habitats, including deep sea sediments, water column, nearshore, and shoreline habitat; and wildlife such as fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, shellfish, corals, and birds. Both private and public lands were adversely affected, including critically important national and state wildlife refuges and parks, and national estuarine reserves. All of the data collection efforts were completed in 2016 when the gobal settlement was reached. 

Read more information about the natural resources affected by the spill >

Interior assessed injuries to our trust resources - sea turtles, birds and endangered species such as the Gulf sturgeon, beach mouse, brown pelican, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, and others. Assessing injury involved everything from staff counting the number of oiled birds and sea turtles (alive and dead) to surveying damage to wildlife habitat such as the dunes and beaches that are essential to nesting birds and sea turtles.

The Deepwater Horizon NRDA injury assessment was  the largest ever undertaken; thousands of pieces of data were collected. For assessing sea turtles exposure to oil, studies looked at factors such as species locations, distribution, nesting habits, and habitat preferences. They also included taking blood and other tissue samples for chemical and toxicological analyses.

For birds, studies looked at numbers of nests that existed at the time of the spill and in subsequent nesting seasons, colony size and location; documenting numbers of oiled and non-oiled birds; and estimating the number of birds killed.

Interior took a multi-facted look at the impacts of the oil spill on the Kemp's ridley sea turtle. The Kemp's ridley work was particularly helpful because an extensive pre-spill database of Kemp's ridley research provides an important source of baseline information for comparison to post-spill data as part of the NRDA.

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