This year nearly 100 dead or ill dolphins have washed up on shore mostly in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay where oil lingers in the marshes and sediment. Kate Spinner, of the Herald Tribune, reports that more than 600 dolphins have been found fatally ill or dead since oil reached the shoreline following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010.
While scientists caution that they cannot draw a definitive link to the BP oil in the die-off, the dolphins’ illnesses are what marine biologists would expect to see from oil exposure: weight loss, anemia, low blood sugar, lung and liver disease, and hormone imbalances.
Health evaluations are also being done in Alabama and Mississippi, where dolphin deaths also appear to be higher than usual.
Ms. Spinner reports that our Sarasota Bay dolphins are playing an important role in the oil spill research because they were not exposed and are being considered as a reference population by federal researchers.