Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana. You can follow him on Twitter @Oceana_Andy.
Nearly a year has passed since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began a three-month-long oil spill. In the later months of last year, after the gushing oil well had finally been capped, some people – politicians and TV talking heads, really – tried to convince Americans that the Gulf had recovered.
It’s true that we still don’t know the extent of the damage wrought by last summer’s oil disaster. The subsurface gusher created a whole new scientific challenge when it came to understanding exactly what was going on. And we’ve said that it would be years before we understand the true cost of the disaster.
Just recently we got a sign that not is all well in the Gulf. Since January, more than 80 bottlenose dolphins have turned up dead – and half of those are newborn or stillborn calves. The government is calling it “an unusual mortality event.”
Scientists don’t yet know whether oil plays a role in these dolphins’ deaths. They are conducting tests now. But it is worth noting that the spill took place during the breeding season last year, not just for dolphins but for the multitude of species that call the Gulf of Mexico home.
Last June, several Oceana staffers traveled to the Gulf and saw dolphins swimming through oil-slicked waters in the Barataria Bay. We can’t see the oil now. But we could continue to feel its effect this year, as other species, including the seafood that is an economic engine in the Gulf, will tell us if they’ve truly recovered in the upcoming breeding cycle of spring.
In the meantime, we continue to repeat that no drilling is safe drilling. Thank you for your continued support as we fight to keep our coasts safe from oil spills.
You can take action to prevent another oil disaster by asking Congress to stop subsidizing the oil industry and transition to clean energy.