photo: Ryan Espanto/Creative Commons
That potential evidence against BP may be much worse than previously reported: A new paper in Conservation Letters (via Nature.com) claims that the number of dolphins and whales killed in the Gulf Oil Spill could be as much as 50 times higher than previously reported. During the disaster itself some 115 whales and dolphins were reported dead by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. In the past few months over 80 baby dolphins have been found washed up dead in the Gulf.
The suspected higher numbers of dead cetaceans is based on the conclusion that just 2% of whales and dolphins that die in the Gulf are ever recovered.
Carcasses are simply a poor method of assessing the impact of an incident like Deepwater Horizon, says co-author Scott Kraus, a whale expert at the New England Aquarium in Boston. "Our detection rate for mortality is very poor, and generally, surveys are not an effective way to pick up dead animals unless you have extremely high coverage." Those surveying during the Gulf spill had vast areas of open water to cover, much of it far from shore. (Nature.com)
More on the Gulf Oil Spill:
Gulf Oil Spill Caused Inches of Dead Animals & Oil to Coat Seafloor
Each Dead Dolphin in Gulf of Mexico Treated As Potential Evidence Against BP