Since the first days of the Gulf oil disaster, the National Wildlife Federation has been warning that it takes years to assess the full impacts of a catastrophic oil spill. Today we’re hearing horrific details from scientists on dolphin deaths in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon gusher:
Baby dolphins, some barely three feet in length, are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines at 10 times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths, researchers are finding.
Moby Solangi, director of the institute, called the high number of deaths an anomaly and told the Sun Herald that it is significant, especially in light of the BP oil spill throughout the spring and summer last year when millions of barrels of crude oil containing toxins and carcinogens spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.
How does that relate to the usual number of baby dolphin deaths?
“For some reason, they’ve started aborting or they were dead before they were born,” Solangi said. “The average is one or two a month. This year we have 17 and February isn’t even over yet.”
As February continued Solangi wrapped up by reporting, “Deaths in the adult dolphin population rose in the year of the oil spill from a norm of about 30 to 89”, Solangi said. “Certainly, the oil spill through exposure to toxics could make the dolphins more vulnerable to disease, or lead to starvation if food sources become scarce. There could also be sublethal effects of the oil on adults that inhibit successful reproduction.”