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BP Oil Spill Causing Dolphin Deaths, Abnormal Fish

Mar 31, 2015 01:13 PM EDT

(Photo : Pixabay)

As the five year anniversary of the infamous BP oil spill approaches, a new report has revealed that 20 species of wildlife are still dealing with the damage from the disaster's aftermath, with dolphins dying in high numbers and abnormal fish being born.

"Five years later, wildlife in the Gulf are still feeling the impacts of the oil spill," Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, who was involved in the study, said in a statement. "The science is clear that this is not over - and sea turtles, dolphins, fish, and birds are still suffering from the fallout. Holding BP fully accountable and using all fines and penalties to restore the Gulf of Mexico must be a national priority."

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig, operated by BP, exploded and dumped about 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So it's no surprise that this catastrophe is wreaking havoc on the region's marine life, and this is not the first time that scientists have raised concerns.

It has previously been reported that a decline in Texas sea turtles - a critically endangered species - is linked to the BP spill. Also, skin lesions found on a large number of fish, damage to Gulf corals, dolphins with hormone abnormalities, and less speedy mahi mahi fish have all been tied to the oil spill.

Now, a team of researchers is delving deeper into the harmful effects of the BP disaster, which apparently have endured even five years later.

Among the findings in Five Years and Counting: Gulf Wildlife in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, they reveal that the amount of dolphins found dead on the Louisiana coast in 2014 were four times historic rates. It is suggested that these ongoing deaths are connected to the oil spill. (Scroll to read on...)

Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
(Photo : Flickr: Terry Ross) Kemp's ridley sea turtles.

In addition, not only are Texas sea turtles in peril but so are endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles, whose nests have been declining since 2010 - despite the fact that in years before annual nest numbers were rapidly increasing. Exposure to oil has been shown to cause abnormal development in many species of fish besides mahi mahi, such as Gulf killifish and bluefin and yellowfin tuna.

And oil apparently doesn't just impact those that live mostly in the affected waters. Comprehensive modeling estimates that 12 percent of the brown pelicans and 32 percent of the laughing gulls in the northern Gulf died as a result of the oil spill. What's more, Oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in three Midwestern states - Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

"Wildlife from sperm whales to marsh ants are still feeling the effects of the disaster," said Ryan Fikes, the National Wildlife Federation's Gulf of Mexico restoration scientist. "But BP seems to prefer attacking scientists over accepting responsibility. It's time for BP to quit stalling so we can start restoring the Gulf."

Soon, a federal judge will decide the case against BP and the other companies for violations of the Clean Water Act, which was passed in 2012. If they are found guilty, the money owed will be given to the five Gulf states to help restore the health of affected areas, including wetlands and oyster reefs, and to protect landscapes and re-create a more natural balance between fresh and salt water.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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