A brown pelican coated in heavy oil wallows in the surf on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana, in 2010 after oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident washed ashore in large volumes.

How oil spills harm birds, dolphins, sea lions and other wildlife

Updated 7:27 AM ET, Wed October 6, 2021

(CNN)An oil spill like the one off the coast of Southern California is a disaster on many levels -- maybe none more tragic than the deadly effects of petroleum on wildlife.

Ocean creatures that swim in deep waters are less affected by spills. But oil disasters near coastlines often do the most harm to shorebirds and marine mammals who live at the ocean's edge and on its surface.
"These critters are living right where the floating oil accumulates," says ecologist Sean Anderson, a professor of environmental science at California State University Channel Islands, adding, "This oil is toxic to everything."
Here's a closer look at how some species of marine life are affected by oil spills.
And if you want to help wildlife rescue efforts in the wake of the spill, you can donate here.


A cormorant is covered in oil after the sinking of the tanker Amoco Cadiz caused a massive oil spill off the coast of France in 1978.