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NJ Program Catalogs Wildlife to Prep for Oil Spills

NJ Program Catalogs Wildlife to Prep for Oil Spills [Lousiana GOHSEP, Flickr]


The American Littoral Society is one of the oldest organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving coastal habitats in the country. Three years ago they launched an effort to catalog data of various habitats along New Jersey's ocean and inland coasts to improve the way officials respond to serious oil spills. 
According to the group's Educational Director, Stevie Thorsen, the program came to fruition following the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"After the B.P oil spill many of our members were calling us, asking how they could help in the cleanup efforts,' she said. 
The so-called Spill Spotters program was launched so regular people could get involved with oil spill response efforts. Thorsen says the program helps fill in the missing pieces after a serious spill. 
"There’s a big focus on the cleanup, but [there's] not so much noticing of oil making its way up tributaries, or where there’s oiled wildlife," Thorsen said. "So our volunteers are trained to recognize oiled wildlife, and we call upon people to go out and monitor waterways in their local areas and report back to us."
Volunteers with the American Littoral Society have already surveyed over twenty spots and collected data that officials can reference when restoring habitats after a spill.
Drilling is banned off the New Jersey coast. But Thorsen says the state is still at risk from oil being transported along waterways like the Delaware River.