Oct 19 2010
On South Padre Island, Texas, peregrine falcons are helping scientists study the effects of BP’s Gulf oil spill.
Because peregrines are at the top of the food chain they’re a good indicator species for threats to the environment. Their population crash in the 1960’s showed us the dangers of DDT. Now they’ll tell us if BP’s oil spill has made its way into the food chain.
To do this, a team from The Peregrine Fund is taking blood samples from migrating peregrines who stopover at the Gulf of Mexico on their way to South America. While on South Padre visiting arctic peregrines eat birds, some of which may have been affected by the oil spill. Are there traces of oil in the peregrines’ blood? If so, the spill is having long-lasting effects.
The peregrines aren’t exactly willing participants in the study — they must be captured to get a sample — but their moment for science is brief and then they’re on their way.
Read more about the study here.
(photo by Kim Steininger)