It appears no amount of cleaning can fix the long-term effects of oil contamination in fragile coastal habitats.
While officials in Santa Barbara, California continue efforts to clean up from last week's oil spill, scientists say they can now definitively link the deaths of an unprecedented number of bottlenose dolphins to the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010—the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Along the northern Gulf of Mexico, dolphins have been found dead with severe lesions in their lungs and damage to their adrenal cortex—the region of the brain that regulates essential body functions like metabolism and blood pressure, among other things.
In a new peer-reviewed study, researchers say that the symptoms associated with this unusual mortality event—defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as a significant die-off of any marine mammal population that demands immediate response—are caused by swimming in oil-contaminated waters. MORE