BP Oil Disaster May Be Behind Baby Dolphin Deaths


Written by Rebecca Leber

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP has mostly resumed normal operations in the Gulf of Mexico. But many animals in the Gulf haven’t gone back to normal.

Researchers have connected a recent dolphin die-off to the 2010 oil spill, which likely weakened dolphins for colder conditions in Gulf waters.

According to a study from scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, published in PLoS ONE, 186 young dolphins washed ashore along Gulf coasts during a four-month period between January 1 and April 30 2011. This included 86 baby dolphins, which is six times more than the average.

University of Central Florida biologist and study researcher Graham Worthy said:

Unfortunately, it was a ‘perfect storm’ that led to the dolphin deaths. The oil spill and cold water of 2010 had already put significant stress on their food resources. . . .   It appears the high volumes of cold freshwater coming from snowmelt water that pushed through Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound in 2011 was the final blow.

Other studies have connected the massive dolphin die-off to the BP spill. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that dolphins off the coast of Louisiana — an area significantly hit by the spill — have become seriously ill due to oil exposure. NOAA “found problems like drastically low weight, low blood sugar and, in some cases, cancer of the liver and lungs.”

Since Febrauary 2010 (two months before the spill) 754 marine mammals have washed onto the shore, 95 percent of which were dead. The actual death toll could be much higher since many bodies never wash up.

The BP disaster has hit other marine life, as well, causing eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.


Related Stories:

Will a Lawsuit Save a Rare Species Of Dolphins?

Talking to Dolphins Could Be Possible With New Device

US Dolphin Safe Tuna Label ‘Unfair’ to Mexico, Rules WTO


Photo: Nick Perretti/flickr

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Hannah Scrivener
Hannah Scrivener2 years ago

I'm still not sure about the BP spill. It seems it wasn't nearly as bad as it was made out to be, based on the physical evidence (I mean where did all that oil go, don't tell me it sank to the ocean floor?!). Still, oil as an everyday resource needs to go. Corn was used by Ford Motors originally, we can use a variety of plant-based fuels or go electric.

Charles Lucas
Charles Lucas3 years ago

The biggest reason for outlawing offshore drilling is the Gulf pollution. Oil is one of the worst types of pollution in the sea. Oil clogs pores,gills and make sea birds flightless with death to follow. Oil kills on the surface and then settles down into under water tar pools that surely contaminate the sea beds and all critters living there. In short oil is an absolute ecosystem destroyer.
My question is why are we drilling offshore at all. Sea rig drilling is dangerous and much more expensive than land sites. Is the profit from oil spills vs. top notch sea drilling make it worth the danger? We must keep on our President and Congress to make drilling in our food basket a thing of the past. We have to learn from our mistakes or we will keep making them. The application of common sense tells us the the danger to our seas and the greatest food source are not to be tampered with for any reason.

Jana Switzer
Jana Switzer3 years ago

Sadness for all these beautiful lost lives...;(
Even sadder that it will continue to happen due to the stupidity of the oil companies and the stupidity of the government for putting profits before all life and will continue to allow these devastating companies to continue to Ravage, Rape & Murder all Life on Earth!

You haven't come close to cleaning up your devastation. Money given to the government only lines their pockets and allows you to continue without true repayments for what you have caused to the people, to the land, to the waters and to all the creatures that call them home.

Sarah T.
Scarlet H.3 years ago

Such a waste of precious life....Truly Heartbreaking

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley3 years ago

Very sad and disturbing.

Darla G.
Darla G.3 years ago

BP has never wanted to accept full responsibility. Oh, sure, they're doing the usual....paying "lip service" and acting like everything is back to normal. I highly doubt that it will EVER be back to normal.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch3 years ago

Really? Animals are dying off after the oil spill? You maen what BP said about "Everything going back to normal", wasn't acurate?


Portland N.

It is probably true, and it is not surprising!

William and Kat Dresbach
Katie D.3 years ago

Sure this is the reason! All the other Animals that have Died that's why!
Oil Companies won't admit this though!!
During Cleanup People were SICK too from the OIL! We saw horrib;e picture of the animals! That should tell us a LOT!

Joy Wong
Joy Wong3 years ago

Sadly noted.