Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
Oil Washing Ashore in What Should be a Safe Haven for Wildlife
Though the Bon Secour NWR is relatively small – only 7,000 acres – it is one of the largest undeveloped areas on the Alabama coast and contains a variety of habitat types including fresh and salt water marsh, uplands, sand dunes, fresh water swamps and scrub forest.
Bon secour is French for "safe harbor", an appropriate name for a wildlife refuge that is a sanctuary for many native species of flora and fauna, including the endangered Alabama beach mouse.
Its beaches are nesting grounds for the endangered Kemp's ridley and loggerhead sea turtles. Hatchlings that survive the crawl to the ocean will swim to open water in the Gulf of Mexico where they seek food and cover in floating vegetation. This has raised major concerns about sea turtle hatchling exposure to oil among wildlife experts and biologists. Bon Secour has now become part of an unprecendented program to relocate these nests to safer locations.
The refuge supports over 370 bird species during migratory season, including seven species of hummingbirds, a robust osprey population and several heron species. Roughly 100,000 people visit and explore Bon Secour each year, and it also serves as an outdoor laboratory for students and scientists.
Oil started washing ashore in early June and refuge staff, volunteers and BP oil clean up crews have been working to protect these fragile lands and clean up the oil.