There have been many stories lately about large populations of animals dying, from cattle to fish, to flocks of birds. Unfortunately, now we can add baby bottlenose dolphins to that list. While finding the little mammals washed up on shore is not uncommon, the large number that have been washing up along the gulf coast is very uncommon.
Is oil the cause?
Last year saw one of the worst environmental disasters in human history occur. The BP owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, and millions of gallons of oil poured out into the Gulf of Mexico . Just how much damage was caused to the environment has been unclear, but it looks as if we are now finding out just how bad the damage could be.
The baby bottlenose dolphins are washing ashore in Alabama and Mississippi , and while marine biologists see baby dolphins wash up every once in a while at the beginning of the year, the amount this year has been alarming. 24 baby dolphins have washed up along the coast of the gulf already this year. In 2009 and 2010 there were 0 reports of dead dolphins in January and only 1 each year during the month of February.
2011 has seen the number of dead baby bottlenose dolphins increase by ten times the normal rate, and even scarier is the fact that dolphin stranding season has not officially begun.
What disturbs me is that experts are beating around the bush when it comes to what is causing the young animals to lose their lives. “Unfortunately we do not have a smoking gun here” said one expert “It might be related to a bloom in algae.”
How much damage has been caused by oil?
The smoking gun is still red hot in my eyes, but agencies have to be careful what they say because the government is still in litigation with BP, so nobody can come out and blame BP for this. Under normal circumstances, it would take two to three weeks to figure out the cause of death, but now there are new protocols in place due to the oil spill, so results will not be known for up to 3 months.
None of the dolphins were found with oil on them, but it would be silly to rule out that the oil spill played a role in the death of these poor baby dolphins. Their home, their habitat, and natural environment was destroyed by the thick black oil that poured out of a poorly drilled oil well.
There really is no telling just how much damage has been done to the Gulf of Mexico, and how many more different types of marine life will be affected because of last years disaster. I have a bad feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
CNN – Deaths of baby dolphins worry scientists , by Vivian Kuo