Home > Man-Made Disasters, Mass Animal Deaths > Gulf of Mexico: Thousands of Dolphins Dying in Massive Die-Off, Symptoms Consistent With Those Seen in Animals Exposed to Oil

Gulf of Mexico: Thousands of Dolphins Dying in Massive Die-Off, Symptoms Consistent With Those Seen in Animals Exposed to Oil


By Tim Wall, Discovery News – “The dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are in the midst of a massive die-off. The reasons why remain a complicated and mysterious mix of oil, bacteria and the unknown.

Normally an average of 74 dolphins are stranded on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico each year, especially during the spring birthing season. But between February 2010 and April 1, 2012, 714 dolphins and other cetaceans have been reported as washed up on the coast from the Louisiana/Texas border through Franklin County, Fla., reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ninety-five percent of the mammals were dead.

Since many of the dead dolphins sink, decompose or are eaten by scavengers before washing up, NOAA believes that 714 may represent only a fraction of the actual death count. NOAA declared the die-off an ‘Unusual Mortality Event’ as per the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

Although the timing of the die-off largely coincides with BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its aftermath, the deaths actually started increasing about two months before the April 20, 2010, explosion, which started the monthslong oil spill.

Before the spill, 112 dolphins had already been reported stranded on the shore.

In the summer of 2011, NOAA tested 32 live dolphins in Barataria Bay, an area heavily impacted by the oil spill. The dolphins were underweight, anemic, and had low blood sugar and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease. Nearly half had abnormally low levels of hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.

The symptoms are consistent with those seen in animals exposed to oil.” Read more.

  1. Stuart
    04/10/2012 at 4:19 AM

    I think that the Dolphins are reacting as a result of the direct effects of the oil spill and the indirect effects this oil spill had on their environment. Many of the Dolphins have died as a direct result of oil poisoning and the effect the oil spill had on their diet. Being the intelligent and social creatures that they are, they have communicated this to the rest of their family members/group telling them – “Please do not eat your food, it is contaminated and our sea is poisonous – we have no option but to beach ourselves or suffer an agonizing slow death in our environment.” Very Sad. Perhaps they can sell these dolphins to Japan instead of Japan Killing them off cruelly.

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