A report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) yesterday shows that the dramatic increase in dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico can be directly linked to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which left 11 workers dead and pumped millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.
According to the study published by the online scientific journal Plos One, the mortality rate of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf began increasing around February 2010 and continued into last year, “overlapping in time and space with … the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
Dolphins found dead along the Gulf coast were tested for evidence of biotoxins, morbillivirus, and brucellosis and results were compared to dolphins from outside the region. Scientists found that “an unusually high number of dead Gulf dolphins had what are normally rare lesions on their lungs and hormone-producing adrenal glands.”
In fact, one out of every three dead Gulf dolphins had these lesions on their adrenal glands, causing a serious condition known as adrenal insufficiency, which leaves animals “less able to cope with additional stressors in their everyday lives.” This inability to cope with added stressors makes the affected animals more likely to die.
“This is the latest in a series of peer-reviewed scientific studies, conducted over the five years since the spill, looking at possible reasons for the historically high number of dolphin deaths that have occurred within the footprint of the Deepwater Horizon spill,” said NOAA’s Dr. Terri Rowles, one of the study’s authors.
“These studies have increasingly pointed to the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons as being the most significant cause of the illnesses and deaths plaguing the Gulf’s dolphin population,” said Dr. Rowles.
In the five years since the disaster, BP has not only tried to avoid taking responsibility for the damages its rig explosion caused, it has tried to downplay the effects the spill actually had on the environment.
Last month, the oil giant sent out a report basically claiming “all is well” in the Gulf and things are returning to normal. This study, along with numerous others, proves that untrue. The Gulf is still very much affected by the spill — humans and animals alike.
“While dolphins and our ecosystem continue to die a BP death, most corporate media refuses to report the story,” said Ring of Fire host Mike Papantonio. “That’s what huge advertising dollars will do for psychopaths like British Petroleum. They have all the money, and we are left with all the suffering.”