Dolphin Deaths Remain A Mystery Due To Federal Gag Order

About a month ago, I reported that researchers on the Gulf Coast were baffled by a sudden increase in the number of baby dolphin deaths occuring near Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastlines.

From the original post: “According to the, researchers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) are investigating a total of 28 adult and infant dolphin carcases since the first of the year. Of the 28, 18 were infant dolphins.”

At the time, dolphin birthing season had just begun, so it was somewhat normal for researchers to see stillborn calves–just not in such high numbers. Research agenices involved in the investigation weren’t sure what could be killing these young dolphins.

Now it seems that the public may never know.

On Friday, Reuters reported that “wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to document spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples for the agency were quietly ordered late last month to keep their findings confidential.”

Apparently, the government considers the dophin die-off, classified as an “unusual mortality event (UME),” as part of the federal criminal investigation into last summer’s catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Because of the seriousness of the legal case, no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the UME investigative team without prior approval,” the agency letter to scientists, obtained by Reuters, stated.

“The secrecy about baby dolphins dying in the Gulf makes no sense,” says Dr. Doug Inkley, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior scientist on the NWF blog. “The public deserves to know what’s happening and why.”

In a timely twist of fate, BP today published its first corporate sustainability report since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

In it, the company refuses to even estimate how much oil its faulty well spilled into the Gulf over a period of months. As a result, the figures show BP spilling less oil in 2010 than in 2008, Fast Company reported.

BP claimed that figures for the Deepwater Horizon spill were omitted because of a lack of definitive figures.

“Although there are several third-party estimates of the flow rate or total volume of oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon incident, we believe that no accurate determination can be made or reported until further information is collected and the analysis, such as the condition of the blowout preventer, is completed,” the report said (via Environmental Leader).

That statement seems more like clever public relations speak intended to distance the company from the disaster, and avoid all responsibility for restoration and damages.


Sign the petition: Prosecute BP for Mass Dolphin Deaths

Related Reading:

Environment Beyond BP: Politics, Policy and Power
BP Fuding Tea Party Favorites
New Oil Spill Spreading Across Gulf of Mexico
Offshore Drilling: Is Energy Worth The Ecological Disaster Of Oil Spills?

Image Credit: Flickr - Jesslee Cuizon

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jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago


T L Asher
t a.4 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Graidhne na Ruadh

BP should be prosecuted, but there is no amount of cash big enough to repair the damage this has done. There is not enough to cover the lives this has and will cost. This spill will touch the waters of the whole planet, and cannot be totally recovered from. Ever.

Samantha Hodder
Sam Hodder4 years ago

thanks for this

Bill K.
Bill K.4 years ago

i sure am glad i live in a free and open society where such cover-ups would be unthinkable. oh wait.....

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Svetlana M.
Svetlana M.4 years ago

It is awful!!! Mongrels because of on which fault there was an oil flood - should be punished!!!

Jean M.
Jean Muise4 years ago

Yes I believe that it is oil, and it will be there for a few years. I am sure that the fish is not fit to eat.Our oceans are a toxic soup. The Government is great at covering up just how bad it is. B.P. will never pay a quarter of what they should for the oil spill.

Paula L.
Paula L.4 years ago

I agree that the Federal Government is probably covering up something. But it may BP may not be the culprit here. They were using some pretty toxic stuff to try to clean up the spill at the beginning and there was some questions raised about it. I myself thought if the oil doesn't kill the sea life, plant and amphibian, the crap they are using to try to contain the spill will. Any time our government issues a gag order, there is info that will incriminate the government themselves or someone they are protecting and could involve something that has or will effect citizens in a bad way.

Where is Wikileaks when you need him?

Carol Cowbrough
Carol Cowbrough4 years ago

Noted. Thank you.