Quantcast

Gulf Oil Spill Continues to Impact Dolphins

Oceana

Sad news from the Gulf of Mexico—at least 32 dolphins in Barataria Bay, La., one of the hardest hit spots by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, have been given physicals and are reported as severely ill according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials.

The dolphins demonstrate a range of symptoms—from being underweight, anemic, and having low blood sugar and liver and lung disease. One of the studied dolphins has been found dead.

There has been a large surge in dolphin deaths in the Northern Gulf of Mexico since the oil spill, especially among newborn and young dolphins. In 2011 there were 159 strandings just in Louisiana, almost eight times the historical average in previous years.

The numbers of dolphin carcasses found is likely only a fraction of the total amount of dolphins killed by the spill, and the true number is likely 50 times the total of 600 strandings since the spill—meaning more than 30,000 dolphin deaths may have been caused by the spill already.

The spike in young dolphin deaths since the spill is extremely concerning. It has shown biologists that the health of dolphin populations in the Northern Gulf has been compromised, resulting in an inordinate number of miscarriages, likely following contact with oil pollution. 

Dolphins are not that dissimilar from humans. They're vulnerable to the conditions around them, and we see a lot of our own vulnerability in them when we see such impacts as this.

These illnesses could have long-term impacts for dolphin populations, showing that chronic impacts from the spill are happening now, as many of us feared. The marine ecosystems of the Gulf have not healed from the Deepwater Horizon spill, and we keep seeing surprises at every turn as to how the ecology of the Gulf has changed.

After seeing this news you might ask: Are we ready to drill for more oil about a mile deep in the same waters as these dolphins? Is it worth the risks? Clearly not, if you ask a dolphin.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Biosolids are applied to fallow wheat fields to build healthy soils at Boulder Park, Washington. King County

By Sarah Wesseler

Talk of natural climate solutions typically conjures up images of lush forests or pristine wetlands. But in King County, Washington, one important natural solution comes from a less Instagram-worthy source: the toilets of Seattle.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jair Bolsonaro pictured at a presidential debate in Brasilia, Brazil June 6, 2018. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / CC BY-NC 2.0

Despite confirmation this week that the deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to take the problem seriously.

Read More Show Less
A healthy diet may reduce hearing loss later in life, according to a new study. PamelaJoeMcFarlane / E+ / Getty Images

Weight loss aside, there is no shortage of benefits to eating healthier: a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, reduced gut inflammation and preventing memory loss later in life, to name a few. A healthy diet may also reduce hearing loss later in life, according to a new study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Read More Show Less
Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk discusses vehicle dimensions in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center in Hawthorne, California on Nov. 21. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

Tesla just unveiled its first electric truck.

CEO Elon Musk showed off the new design at a launch event at the company's Design Studio in Hawthorne, California Thursday.

Read More Show Less