Dolphins Dying along US Coastlines

When we spend most of our time in offices, cars and our homes, it is hard to know what’s going on in the Gulf Coast. It has been determined through recent studies that the BP Oil Spill may be strongly associated with a mass die off occurring in Dolphins along the American East Coast.

The dolphins are being found with lung diseases and very low levels of adrenal hormones (adrenal mutations), resulting in many which were overweight, missing teeth, or having aborted pregnancies (National Geographic).

These are disturbing things for us to understand. BP argues in their defense that a virus could be at play, and additionally, they argue, there are many pollutants entering the Gulf, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and countless other synthetic products. BP even argued that because Dolphins breath air, they’re open to air-borne contaminates as well.

These are truths, however they are nice ways for BP to detract from the fact that 5 billion *barrels* (not gallons) of oil over an 86 day leak were seeped into the Gulf. Along with remediation chemicals whose purpose was to bond to the oil and sink it to the ocean floor, there’s no telling what these chemical concoctions can do to sensitive genetics and embryonic development. Let us not just shove 5,000,000,000 barrels of oil under the rug like it’s nothing here–this is a big number and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

When keystone mammals are showing up dead, specifically with hormonal issues, we should be taking the signs and symptoms seriously. For those who do not know, a keystone species is one which has a major ecological role within its community. Dolphins are major players in their ocean marine ecosystems, and large losses are a big deal.

This die-off could subside and things could return to normal. But along with the Starfish Disintegration that has occurred around the US, one has to ask, what is going on with our oceans? Is it true that warming ocean temperatures, or environmental pollutants, are causing the losses of major species?

How would the American public react if they lost the Dolphin or Starfish in their lifetime? We have to realize that with environmental disasters, in the scale they’ve been in (think Fukushima), we ought to realize these losses could be a reality. Can we not put down our corporate logos, our political hats, and come to the table as human beings, recognizing the value of a functioning planet? Can we not find ways to improve the place of our problems, before they worsen? It is not too late! We can start today, by recognizing the signs and symptoms and formulating our solutions!

 

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Sources and Direct Quotes:

“A multidisciplinary team of scientists says it has observed a connection between the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and severely ill dolphins in Barataria Bay east of Lafourche Parish.

A spokesman for BP dismissed the results, noting that the symptoms could have been caused by factors other than the spill.

The team’s findings, documented in a report published Wednesday, found about half the dolphins tested were either in guarded or worse condition with health problems that can be linked to oil exposure.”

“I’ve never seen such a high prevalence” of ailments, says U.S. government researcher.

Dolphins living in an area heavily impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill show higher incidences of lung disease, hormonal abnormalities, and other health effects, a new study finds.

The research, led by U.S. government scientists and funded by BP, the oil company that operated the ill-fated Macondo well, provides the clearest evidence to date linking the oil disaster with potentially deadly health effects in bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. (See related quiz: “How Much Do You Know About the Gulf Oil Spill?“)

About 30 dolphins in Barataria Bay were caught, examined and released. The checkups included an ultrasound examination to assess the animals’ lung conditions. The researchers concluded that many of the dolphins suffered from moderate to severe lung disease associated with oil contamination. Almost half had “a guarded or worse prognosis, and 17 percent were considered poor or grave, indicating they weren’t expected to live,” according to the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The researchers also found that the Barataria Bay population overall had very low levels of adrenal hormones, which are critical for responding to stress, and that 25 percent of the dolphins were significantly underweight.”

“Nearly half the bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay tested in mid-2011 to assess natural resources’ damage in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill were in “guarded or worse” condition, including 17 percent that were not expected to survive, according to a peer-reviewed study released Wednesday morning.

I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals – and with unusual conditions such as adrenal hormone abnormalities,” said Lori Schwacke, the lead author of the study, in reference to the Barataria Bay dolphins.