Dolphins living in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay still struggle to reproduce seven years after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform killed 11 workers and caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
More than 3 million barrels of oil went into the Gulf of Mexico over the 87 days it took to cap the well, affecting marine wildlife including the bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay.
A 2016 study by the NOAA showed the dolphins living in waters with high oil concentrations had an 80 percent chance of reproductive failure due to fetal and maternal oil exposure, ABC News reported. Dolphins not getting pregnant were likely to have damaged lungs and adrenal glands, and many contracted bacterial pneumonia and died.
Death rates between the Florida panhandle and the Texas-Louisiana border were twice the rate they were before the spill, and up to four times as high where oil concentrations were higher, ABC reported.
The higher death rates lasted longer than expected, and were not due to any virus or red tide, scientists concluded.
The Houston Chronicle reported 1,500 dolphin deaths and failed pregnancies were attributed to the Deepwater Horizon spill so far, out of 20,000 to 40,000 dolphins that live in the affected area.
BP made a $500 million commitment to research and cleanup following the spill, some of which funded the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) that conducted the dolphin research, ABC reported.
Twitter users worried about further deregulation, with one user suggesting drilling in the Arctic where there are no dolphins to worry about.
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