Can Whales and Dolphins Adapt to Oily Gulf?

Jun 25, 2010
This NASA satellite image shows oil reaching Alabama beaches and the Florida panhandle.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The dead sperm whale found this week in the Gulf of Mexico puts the spotlight on how the BP oil spill will affect this endangered mammal, along with other cetaceans, such as dolphins, that must break the oil-slicked surface to breathe.

“These communities of whales and dolphins are already known to be stressed, because they’re dealing with other pollutants, like , in the water,” says Emory neuroscientist Lori Marino, an expert in whale and dolphin intelligence and behaviors. “They are already compromised animals, and when they have something like this to deal with, it can be a tipping point for them.”

It is unknown whether the deaths of the young sperm whale and the half-dozen dolphins that have been found washed up on Gulf beaches are oil related. Unlike the stark visual evidence of birds with oil-coated feathers, the toxic impact on whales and dolphins is primarily internal.

“They have to open their blowholes to breathe,” Marino says. “Imagine sticking your nose in a bowl and snorting oil. You’d be choking.”

A greater, and more lasting, impact may be the domino effect of toxins in the , as oil droplets get into the fish and squid that cetaceans eat, she says.

Recent reports of large numbers of moving into shallow waters off Florida to flee the oil are troubling, Marino adds. “If they stay in the shallows and the oil comes in after them, they’ll be trapped.”

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JCincy
5 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2010
What a welcome sight it would be to see the skimmers from the Netherlands and other countries come into the Gulf and help clean up this mess. Sadly, the White House has declined these and other offers of international assistance.

How much more damage will be inflicted on the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico because of the arrogance and ignorance of the Obama administration?
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2010
What a welcome sight it would be to see the skimmers from the Netherlands and other countries come into the Gulf and help clean up this mess. Sadly, the White House has declined these and other offers of international assistance.
It isn't as altruistic as you lead us to believe. The Netherlands requested a payment of 40 million dollars per skimmer per month, a drop in the bucket compared to the apocalyptic result of not accepting the assistance until you recognize that these skimmers can only pull up about 5000 barrels of the spill per day.

Also only a drop in the bucket.

We should have a unilateral whole world effort to clean this up. The impact was and is global. Everyone should be sending ships to address this effot, and the US shouldn't have the right to say no in regards to entry into US sovereign waters.
El_Nose
2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 25, 2010
@Skeptic
if the US doesn't have the right to say no in reargs to entry into US sovereign waters then exactly who do you suggest grant permission to enter American teritory.

protection of sovereignty is the basic most fundamental issue of a government.

And as you pointed out one should not be made to take aid and then to pay for it. But this is not a global catastrophe it is very localized and the collaspe of the eco system will be localized as well.

The Valdez disater was almost as big and did not spur international sovereignty issues.
akotlar
5 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2010
"It is unknown whether the deaths of the young sperm whale and the half-dozen dolphins that have been found washed up on Gulf beaches are oil related."

I love this. I'm sure it's just a big coincidence, and swimming between oil slicks is good cardio, like an underwater hurdling event. The dolphins are probably all for it.
Caliban
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 25, 2010
@Skeptic
if the US doesn't have the right to say no in reargs to entry into US sovereign waters then exactly who do you suggest grant permission to enter American teritory.

protection of sovereignty is the basic most fundamental issue of a government.

... But this is not a global catastrophe it is very localized and the collaspe of the eco system will be localized as well.

The Valdez disater was almost as big and did not spur international sovereignty issues.


I think that we can safely say that assistance, in this case, would aid the "protection of sovereignty". Set rates for these volunteers, and let BP pay for them. That way, more of the oil is collected. Right now, the disaster is being handled from the perspective of: "if BP can't get this oil, then no one can", which - I'm sure you'll agree" is plain messed up.

And, I shouldn't have to point out that the Valdez spill is a drop in the bucket by comparison. This is far from over.
bloodonthescarecrow
5 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2010
while i appreciate the title of the article and the depth of the potential dialogue it would spawn here, i suspect a more Relevant question would be "Who authors these physorg articles, and can the authors adapt to an audience of readers who are at average, far too intelligent to consider the title a serious postulation" or "can the author of that title adapt to being drowned in ink?". Physorg, you have my email address should you need some fresh talent.
Skepticus
not rated yet Jun 25, 2010
Humans have been forced to breath toxic soups from burning fossil fuels and other industrial chemicals for more than a century. So the bean counters reckoned the environmental snafus by their shortcuts in money-making are no big deal. Let's have some species equality in enjoying the poisons!
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 26, 2010
@Skeptic
if the US doesn't have the right to say no in reargs to entry into US sovereign waters then exactly who do you suggest grant permission to enter American teritory.
I would say for the purposes of world wide ecological protection the entire area be put under a non-governmental global body that will clear all entering ships prior to performing work.

protection of sovereignty is the basic most fundamental issue of a government.
As is protecting the population from ecological catastrophy that will destroy the food chain as well as the territory. The US government failed horribly in this instance.
But this is not a global catastrophe it is very localized and the collaspe of the eco system will be localized as well.
Entirely wrong.

The Valdez disater was almost as big and did not spur international sovereignty issues.

This break is pumping an exxon valdez into the gulf every 5 days, since April 23rd. Tomorrow will mark Valdez number 13.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 26, 2010
cont:

If you think this isn't a global issue, simply look at the fact that this US fishery is responsible for feeding over 1 billion people per year, many of whom do not have a reliable source of vitamin D in their diets without the products from the gulf, and that's before we even start talking about future damage to the area because of this.

Now pass one hurricane through the area and watch that oil get blasted into the gulf stream, up the entire eastern seaboard wiping out another 4 major fisheries responsible for feeding about 3 billion people. Then watch it contaminate the few European fisheries left.

This is utterly apocalyptic, and I'm ashamed to be an American and have this albatross hanging from my neck.
in7x
3 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2010
Throw them in a pool full of oil and let's find out.
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2010
@ skeptic

--I don;t even know if its worth arguing these points but

NO country that is in control should ever give up their sovereignty -- no matter the situation giving up soverrignty is giving the area to someone else

--yes the lack of oversite or regulations may have helped prevent this - but lets face it almost all regulations come from accidents or disasters that show quite well where the system fails, you say its horrible this happened, I respect that stance and cannot argue it , but it is far worse to not learn from it

if the spill remains contained in the gulf then this IS a localized disaster - there is no arguement of this point only time and weather can change the area involved

You are right the Exxon spill was much smaller -- the Iraq spill during the war was larger and the area had an almost full recovery in 3 years with little reef damage and animal populations rebounding.

I am just concerned that you would turn over control of the area.
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2010
There is no doubt this can get a lot bigger -- but i think a lot of hype has happened with this story... the spill is not the size of FL -- heck its not the size of Rhode Island -- this is containable and we all know that hurricanes are going to come but this isn;t the first time a lot of oil has spilled in the Gulf - just the first time in years so much and in American territory.

be ashamed of being American if you want -- I choose not to be... I am and always have been proud to be a citizen of this country... feel free to leave.
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2010

if the spill remains contained in the gulf then this IS a localized disaster - there is no arguement of this point only time and weather can change the area involved


@El Nose,

I'm not sure on what basis you make this claim, buddy. We understand that the Gulf is only a part of the Caribbean, but you are assuming that this crude won't make it into the larger circulation of the Caribbean, and, into the Atlantic, as well.

If it is drawn into the Caribbean circulation, let's see- Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti(like they don't already have enough to deal with) Honduras,Guatemala,Panama, Nicaragua,Costa Rica, Venezuela,Columbia, Bahamas, Jamaica- are all potential victims, as well as the Eastern seaboard of the US, and, ultimately, perhaps even the shores of Albion herself.

We are still AT LEAST two months away from the next shot of stopping this oil, currently pumping into the ocean at a MINIMUM of almost 900MILLION gallons per day. That's MINIMUM.
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2010
At maximum, this gusher could be pumping as much as FIVE TIMES that much oil, EVERY DAY! I don't think that you quite grasp the magnitude of this disaster.

This isn't a little "spill", that's going to dirty a few miles of beach, and maybe put a few smelly old fisherfolk out of work for a few months. This is a freaking CALAMITY.

By the time this is contained, we will be looking at Thousands of miles of fouled coast. Years of loss of fisheries. An incalculable loss of sealife. Unassessable and longlasting damage to the area environment, and global environmental effects, as well. Long lived effects to the health and safety of people(and wildlife)resident in the affected areas. Wholesale collapse of coastal economies, and ripple effects in all the directly affected areas, regionally, nationally, and globally.

We have no idea of the ultimate extent OR duration of these effects- but be assured that at least some areas will be crippled for years to come, if not permanently.
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2010
When you add to this already grim picture the fact that the rate of gush can, at any time, be increased FURTHER, and by quite a lot, things appear very dicey, indeed.

What you probably don't know, because no one is talking about it- because our gov and BP don't want to cause any undue alarm, is that there is damage downwell. At some place along the bore- most likely near the transition to rock from seafloor sediment, there is a fracture in the drillcasing, and quite possibly, some fracturing in some of the surrounding strata.

If BP is not successful in intersecting the drillbore BELOW this damaged area, then guess what?
the oil DOESN"T STOP. Not only does it not stop, it will inevitably increase in rate, and volume of flow, as it erodes through all the overburden, on its way to the sea, opening up who knows how many additional outlets to the Gulf in the process.

Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2010
People simply don't understand what kind of pressure this oil is under, and therefore the amount of counterpressure necessary to contain it, much less the destructive force of its explosive release.

You should have at least the beginning of an understanding of just how catastrophic this "accident" is. It absolutely dwarfs any other "oil spill", ever. And, it's not done.
El_Nose
not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
@ Caliban --

1) the size of the source is estimated at 50M barrels @ 42 gallons to a barrel thats 210M gallons possible - so there is your upper limit on if they never stop the oil how much will come out TOTAL -- not 900M

2) at very bad estimates we say 5k barrels a day and its probably more like 20k barrels a day -- is 800k gallons a day not 900M gallons a day

Most people on this site me included and yourself are fairly news knowlegable -- it why we come here and we like the discussions, BUT the fact remains - so far the spill is localized it probably will move in the future, but it hasn't yet so there is still time. Most of us are aware of the issue BP is facing, and most of us don't prescribe to the entire floor of the gulf caving in, or things of that nature but allow for it as a possibility.

FACT:
if the entire well drained into the gulf it will be less than the Persian Gulf spill in the Iraq war.

it will be less that the biggest oil spill ever-- USA 1910 Cali
El_Nose
not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
-- just to update my figures -- finally found a soure --- 35,000 to 60,000 barrels (1,500,000 to 2,500,000 US gallons; 5,600 to 9,500 cubic metres) of crude oil per day---- being leaked
Caliban
1 / 5 (2) Jun 29, 2010
@El Nose

Right you are regarding that 900Million figure- should have been ~900,000. Quite a difference, but still, nearly a million gallons per day. But that is using the official figure. There are other credible estimates of up to 100,000 barrels per day(4.2 million gallons) You tell me who we should believe.

Stopping in August?

http://www.examin...oil-leak

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the horizon oil field contain an estimated 50Billion Barrels of crude? A quick search for biggest oil spill nets this item:

http://www.enviro...ew/68/1/

Kuwait spill during Gulf War=520 million Gallons.
Deepwater Horizon is already nearing that total, if the actual rate of release is near 100,000bpd. At 60,000bpd/2.5 million gallons per day,it has already surpassed Ixtoc to take the #2 spot.

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