Ailing dolphins founds in aftermath of 2010 gulf oil spill
- my latest at the +Washington Post
For eighty-seven days in 2010, 210 million gallons of oil from wells below the Deepwater Horizon poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers announced recently that as a result, Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay are suffering from a host of maladies, including lung disease and adrenal problems. They’re also losing their teeth. The research was conducted in August 2011, by a team of governmental, academic, and non-governmental scientists as part of the post-spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
To understand what the effects of oil contamination were on marine mammals like dolphins and whales, the team conducted health assessments on thirty-two Barataria Bay dolphins in 2011, a site chosen because that area was heavily oiled during and after the spill. The team compared those dolphins to twenty-seven from Sarasota Bay, Florida, where researchers were already conducting a decades-long study of dolphin health, and which was lucky enough to remain oil-free following the blowout.
The team sampled each dolphin’s blubber, collected blood and urine samples, conducted ultrasounds, took body-size measurements, and more. The results were published in December in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.