Thursday, 3 March 2011

U.S. Gulf Coast Dolphin Death Toll Rises - Reuters

I haven't written about the spill in a while. Partially because I've been away, and partially because the reporters have been too. It's been almost a year now, and the spill has effectively slid back in the news and is not receiving nearly as much attention as it used to. Of course we all saw this coming, but it's been especially hard to find articles about the science of the spill rather than the business. Besides, Justin Bieber got a new haircut...who CARES about the Gulf Coast?


Dolphins have been dying in large numbers in the Gulf. The remains of 59 dolphins have been recovered from beaches along the coast...and that's not the most heartbreaking part of it. Half of them are babies.

This is about 12 times the normal number of dolphin deaths for this time of year.

"Although none of the carcasses bore outward signs of oil contamination, all were being examined as possible casualties of petrochemicals that fouled the Gulf of Mexico after a BP drilling platform exploded in April 2010, rupturing a wellhead on the sea floor, officials said."

I did read something not so long ago...I believe it was in Leviathan or, The Whale by Philip Hoare (which is a great book by the way), though I can't be sure. Studies have shown that the contamination in adult bottlenosed dolphins along the American coast are so high that most females will lose their first calf due to their own toxicity. Perhaps with the additional contamination the BP oil spill has caused in the Gulf, this statistic is rising even higher? What if no females can give birth to healthy calves this year...then what?

At least 29 of the dead dolphins have been positively identified as bottlenose dolphins.

"The latest wave follows an earlier tally of 89 dead dolphins - virtually all of them adults - reported to have washed ashore in 2010 after the Gulf oil spill.

Results from an examination of those remains, conducted as part of the government's oil spill damage assessment, have not been released, though scientists concluded those dolphins 'died from something environmental during the last year,'"
said Blair Mase, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokeswoman.

I think it's pretty obvious what they're suggesting.

Full article here (Reuters)


  1. Oh no, dolphins :(

    People don't understand how huge and persistent environmental damage like an oil spill is. Most people seem to think, "oh, there isn't any visible oil left, so it's all cleaned up" and then the public support for clean up efforts dries up.

    It's sad.

  2. My 4yr old son loves dolphins! If the deaths aren't casualties of the oil spill, than what could be the cause?

  3. I imagine it's likely something to do with the oil or the dispersants...Even if they don't end up admitting it to the public.
    If not, it's clearly something environmental, but something enough to kill 60+ large mammals that's still unidentified is a real threat if you ask me. Hopefully the answer is found soon.