Toll from BP oil spill far higher

2011-03-30 09:21
Marine reef ecologist Scott Porter works to remove oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill off his hands in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice. (Eric Gay, AP)

Marine reef ecologist Scott Porter works to remove oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill off his hands in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice. (Eric Gay, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The discovery of more than 100 dead dolphins on Gulf of Mexico shores likely reflects only a small fraction of the total killed by the BP oil spill in 2010, a study suggested on Wednesday.

The actual toll among cetaceans, a group of mammals that includes whales, narwhals and dolphins, may be as much as 50 times higher, said the Canadian and American research team in the journal Conservation Letters.

"The Deepwater oil spill was the largest in US history, however, the recorded impact on wildlife was relatively low, leading to suggestions that the environmental damage of the disaster was actually modest," said lead author Rob Williams from the University of British Columbia.

"This is because reports have implied that the number of carcasses recovered, 101 (as of November 2010), equals the number of animals killed by the spill."

Looking back at annual death rates over the past decade, researchers estimate that 4 474 cetaceans died each year from 2003 to 2007, but an average of just 17 carcasses washed up annually on the northern Gulf of Mexico shores.

Recovery rate


That indicates an overall carcass recovery rate of 0.4 percent of total estimated mortality among cetaceans in the area. When broken down by species, researchers determined there was a 2% mean recovery rate.

"If, for example, 101 cetacean carcasses were recovered overall, and the deaths were attributed to oiling, the average recovery rate [2%] would translate to 5 050 carcasses, given the 101 carcasses detected," said the study.

Previous studies have suggested that dead sea animals that turned up following the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska in 1989 also represented a small portion of the overall toll.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sunday updated its figures from what it terms a "cetacean unusual mortality event" to 390 "strandings" - 96% of them were "stranded" dead and 4% alive.

The deaths were tracked in the northern Gulf of Mexico from February 1 2010 to March 27 2011.

Scientists in Mississippi and Alabama raised new concerns in February after they found 17 baby dolphins washed up dead on the shores in the span of two weeks, more than 10 times the normal rate, in the first birthing season since the BP disaster.

Florida officials have also noted above average numbers of manatee deaths for two years straight, possibly due to cold water temperatures off the waters of the southern state, though the effects of the BP spill could be a contributing factor.

The burly swimmers, sometimes known as sea cows, are not considered in the same group as cetaceans.

The disaster was set off when the Deepwater Horizon, a rig which BP leased to drill at the Macondo well, exploded on April 20 2010, killing 11 workers and unleashing more than 950 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Read more on:    environment  |  us oil slick  |  marine life
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Motoring
 

Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

 
 

Men24.com

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It may be hard to stay cool, calm and collected. Your emotions can get quite heated in the moment. You may benefit from finding a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.