State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Dead Baby Dolphins and The Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo by Arnaud 25

Over ten months ago, on April 20th, 2010, The Deepwater Horizon experienced a massive explosion while workers aboard were exploring for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Shorty after 11 crewmembers were confirmed dead, officials announced that there was a leak in the well. As barrels and barrels of oil spewed into the water, the federal government deployed a tremendous effort to cap the well, utilizing familiar and unique technological strategies. Though the well was capped after 87 days and finally killed after 149 days, the damage was massive. 4.9 million barrels of toxic oil had escaped, causing harm to countless species in the Gulf in unprecedented ways. As the 1-year anniversary of the oil spill approaches, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Gulf of Mexico has been changed forever and the restoration process is still underway.

This week, researchers reported that dead baby dolphins emerged along the shores of the Gulf in alarming high amounts, a potentially an important finding in light of the spill. The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport is currently performing animal autopsies to gather tissues and organs in hopes of uncovering an explanation for the deaths. It is important to note that it has not been confirmed whether the oil spill and the death of the dolphins are related.

In the past two months, dolphin deaths have risen by a factor of 10. Dolphins typically begin their breeding season in the spring and carry young for 11 to 12 months. Around March, birthing season begins. Typically, in the preceding months, 1 to 2 baby dolphins are found dead each month. In the past months, 17 dead baby dolphins have washed ashore.

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Case management software
Case management software
13 years ago

Unfortunate. There have been so many animal dieoffs lately. I wonder why?

Nicole Arsenault
13 years ago

This is so sad, I am in AL and not a day goes by without a story on the news or in the papers about the after-effects from the spill. It will be generations before people in my area forget and nearly as long for the area to recover from the damage and businesses to recoup their lost revenues. If I see one more PR blitz commercial from BP with a business owner singing their praises, I am going to scream…

Brian Kateman
Brian Kateman
13 years ago

Thank you for your candor, Nicole. The spill permeated every way of life in the Gulf; certainly you are right about its long lasting effects on the economy and social stability.

Baby clothes
Baby clothes
13 years ago

I am very upset that when I hear such a report, we stupid human beings are destroying our own world for fighting the “black gold”

I am very upset !!!