NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Continuing deaths of dolphins and sea turtles are a sign that the Gulf of Mexico is still feeling effects from the 2010 spill that spewed 200 million gallons of oil from a well a mile below the surface, a prominent environmental group said Tuesday.
The deaths — especially in dolphins, which are at the top of the food chain — are “a strong indication that there is something amiss with the Gulf ecosystem,” said National Wildlife Federation senior scientist Doug Inkley.
“Both species have very high mortality the first year, slightly lower the second year and the third year even lower, but still well above average,” Inkley said. “To have these deaths above average for so long a period of time is unprecedented.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service has said previously that many turtles probably drowned in shrimp nets and that brucellosis, a bacterial infection, was the only common thread in the dolphin deaths.
NOAA cannot comment about Inkley’s statement because its investigation of the deaths is part of the federal tally of environmental damage for oil spill litigation, spokeswoman Connie Barclay said.