The Blog Aquatic » oil disaster http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:20:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 New Study Shows Dolphins are Struggling to Recover from BP Oil Disaster http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/18/new-study-shows-dolphins-are-struggling-to-recover-from-bp-oil-disaster/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/12/18/new-study-shows-dolphins-are-struggling-to-recover-from-bp-oil-disaster/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 20:33:41 +0000 Alexis Baldera http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7214

Photo: US NOAA Fisheries

Nearly four years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, we are beginning to see scientific data that points to the injury caused to important marine mammals like the bottlenose dolphin. A recent NOAA-commissioned study of 32 dolphins living in Barataria Bay, Louisiana – an area of the Gulf heavily oiled by the BP oil disaster – determined that dolphins had severely reduced health.

The animals showed multiple signs of poor health, including tooth loss, lung disease, reduced hormone levels and low body weight. These symptoms were not seen in dolphins at an unoiled comparison site or in previous dolphin health assessments unrelated to this study.

Nearly half of the dolphins were given an uncertain or worse prognosis, which means that many of the dolphins are not expected to survive. The authors of the study determined that “many disease conditions observed in Barataria Bay dolphins are uncommon but consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure and toxicity.”

The results of this study are troubling because the Gulf dolphin population in Barataria Bay is about 1,000 animals, and the death of even a small number of dolphins may have a serious effect on this local population. The dolphins in Barataria Bay and other areas of the northern Gulf have been dying in unusually high numbers since February 2010. Scientists are working to determine the cause of this unusual mortality event and how it may relate to the BP oil disaster.

The coastal marshes surrounding Barataria Bay still contain oil from the disaster. Tar mats and tar balls containing BP oil continue to wash up on Gulf beaches following extreme storms, such as Tropical Storm Karen in October and Hurricane Isaac last year.

Ocean Conservancy believes that funding for long-term research and monitoring is critical to determine the full injury of the BP oil disaster and to track the recovery of dolphins and other Gulf natural resources. In order to begin recovery for these and other dolphins, we can respond quicker to stranded animals by enhancing capabilities of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We can also use new technologies, such as high definition video surveys, to track and monitor wild dolphin populations. We have an opportunity to accelerate the recovery of dolphins affected by the oil spill by implementing these activities with a portion of the $1 billion down payment that BP has made for early restoration.

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Restoring the Gulf of Mexico by Pointing Baby Turtles Back to Sea http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/12/restoring-the-gulf-of-mexico-by-pointing-baby-turtles-back-to-sea/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/12/restoring-the-gulf-of-mexico-by-pointing-baby-turtles-back-to-sea/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2012 19:10:39 +0000 Denny Takahashi Kelso http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3230 Have you heard that Coast Guard officials recently confirmed an oil slick found in the Gulf of Mexico last week matched oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster? Indeed, while the BP spill may be a distant memory to some, the Gulf still feels the effects today. The Coast Guard has said the oil slick “does not post a threat to the shoreline,” but it will certainly affect the Gulf’s offshore waters, which are just as vital to the region’s overall health.

In my latest Huffington Post piece, I weigh in on the threats this oil continues to pose in the Gulf and discuss the ways Ocean Conservancy continues to work toward marine restoration in this important area. One project helps point baby turtles back to sea:

Sea turtles are at sea for most of their life cycle, but they return to beaches in Texas, Alabama and Florida to lay their eggs. Although the Deepwater Horizon oil spill harmed turtles, we can help them recover by taking steps on the shore to protect their nesting habitats.

Bright lighting from beachfront residences, parks and piers may mislead hatchlings who may follow the bright lights and travel in the wrong direction, away from the water — with deadly results.

By retrofitting existing lights near beaches with lights that are dimmer or have filters or shields that help keep the beach dark, we can help more baby sea turtles reach their ocean habitat and have the chance of surviving to adulthood.

Efforts to protect sea turtle nesting habitats provide multiple benefits, including helping local economies that depend upon tourism. Read the whole piece on Huffington Post for more information.

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