Dolphin Die-off Due To 2010 Oil Spill Coming to End, say Scientists

A team of scientists studying the water quality and tracking the number of dead dolphins washing shore said that the dolphin die-off is declining almost five years after the Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jenny Litz, a research biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), said in a statement on Friday that the researchers noted that dolphin mortalities in the Gulf coast region have declined.

Previously from 2010 to 2014, the mass mortality was caused due to one of the biggest environmental disasters in history in which a BP oil rig exploded. The incident that took place in April 2010 killed 11 employees spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean before.

The spill was successfully stopped almost after five months, but BP did not take any responsibility for the die-off, citing frequent die-offs in the past and other bacterial diseases in the Gulf.

BP in response to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report said, “It's important to note that unfortunately, these large die-offs of dolphins aren't unusual. Even though the UME [Unusual Mortality Event] may have overlapped in some areas with the oil spill, correlation is not evidence of causation”.

On the other hand, experts at NOAA disagreed on what BP said. They said they agree on the point that dolphins have died in past, but dolphins have not experienced a die-off that has lasted so long. This mass die-off affected several animals and calves.

As per the NOAA report, almost 74 dead, washed-up dolphins in a year were found earlier. But after the incident, the average grew to 248 individuals. The NMFS estimates 1,433 whales and dolphins have been killed as a result of the 2010 spill, out of which 87 %(or 1,246) of the individuals being bottlenose dolphins.

United States
Jenny Litz