Rena disaster not studied | The Jackal

8 Apr 2012

Rena disaster not studied

Last Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported:

Bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, are showing signs of severe ill health, according to NOAA marine mammal biologists and their local, state, federal, and other research partners.

Barataria Bay, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

Based on comprehensive physicals of 32 live dolphins from Barataria Bay in the summer of 2011, preliminary results show that many of the dolphins in the study are underweight, anemic, have low blood sugar, and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease.

Nearly half also have abnormally low levels of the hormones that help with stress response, metabolism, and immune function.

The problem is that effected animals are often afflicted with mouth and sinus infections, which means they cannot find, catch or eat their food properly.

Dolphins are very susceptible to starvation from pollution induced infections, so although oil is not always found in their systems during autopsy, their deaths can be attributed to the pollution, which has also badly effected the Dolphins food supplies.

The Business Insider reported:

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 675 dolphins have been stranded in the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010 – a much higher rate than the usual average of 74 dolphins per year — which prompted the NOAA to declare an Unusual Mortality Event and begin an investigation.
Another ongoing study by Linda Hooper-Bui at Louisiana St. University found that several populations of insects and spiders are still not recovering from the spill. She has been studying insect populations at certain sites since 2009 and collected insects at 45 sites about 25 times last year.

She has found that there was a large drop in numbers immediately after the oil spill and that some kinds of insects and spiders are still far less numerous than in 2009.

Another recent study of deep ocean corrals seven miles from the spill source found dead and dying corals coated in "brown gunk" that was attributed to the Deepwater Horizon well after a chemical analysis.

The research, jointly funded by the NOAA and BP, noted that deepwater corals are not usually affected in oil spills but the depth and temperatures in the Deepwater Horizon spill seems to have created plumes of oil particles that have caused unprecedented damage.

Yet another study confirmed that zooplankton – the microscopic organisms at the bottom of the ocean food chain – have also been contaminated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

So there are serious long term effects from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster to a number of animals and organisms. The problem isn't limited to oil pollution either, as around 6,800 m3 of dispersant was applied, which has proven significant side-effects.

Unlike the the Gulf of Mexico, New Zealand's Bay of Plenty hasn't had any comprehensive study into the environmental effects from the Rena disaster.

This is outrageous considering the Rena was also carrying large amounts of dangerous chemicals, with the cumulative toxic effects likely to cause damage to the environment for many years to come.