It was five years ago next month that a British Petroleum oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, and spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters. Now, it could be to blame for the death of hundreds of dolphins.
“The magnitude and the duration of the deaths is utterly unprecedented in the Gulf of Mexico,” says Ryan Fikes, a scientist with the National Wildlife Federation.
In a conference call, Fikes talked with reporters, along with the group’s David Muth. NWF released a report titled “Five Years & Counting,” about the effects of the spill on wildlife.
“There is compelling evidence that this mortality event that has been going on since the spill is linked to the spill,” says Muth, head of the group’s Gulf Restoration Program.
But is BP’s oil to blame?
BP wrote in a report it released two weeks ago that the unusually high number of dolphin deaths began several months before the Deepwater Horizon explosion and may be linked to a deadly strain of animal bacteria.
In an emailed response from BP’s media relations office, the company said the National Wildlife Federation was trying to use the spill to raise money for its “policy agenda.”
Overall, BP says the parts of the Gulf affected by the spill are “undergoing a strong recovery.”
The Wildlife Federation calls that assessment a “very rosy picture” that is at odds with what it says are diminished populations of sea turtles, pelicans and fish.
This report was originally published by Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media. You can read the article here.