Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

3 Years After BP Oil Spill:  1,700 Sea Turtles Dead or Injured. Dolphins Still Dying in Gulf

TAMPA, FL - Florida wildlife continues to feel the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

More than 1,700 sea turtles have been found injured or dead in the past three years - more than three times the annual rate before the BP spill. Dolphin deaths have been at higher-than-normal levels every month since the spill, with 650 found in the spill area since it happened.

The information is part of a new report from the National Wildlife Federation. Dr. Doug Inkley, the group's senior wildlife biologist, said the dolphin deaths are of particular concern.

These ongoing deaths, particularly in a species at the top of the food chain, are a strong indication that something is seriously amiss in the ecosystems of the gulf," he said.

The report cites recent laboratory studies that show oil exposure reduces hatch rates of fish such as mahi mahi, and those that grow to adulthood have impaired cardiac development, causing them to swim slowly and be at greater risk of being killed by predators.

              Click to enlarge graphic

Last year, 6 million pounds of tar and contaminated material from the spill were cleaned up from Louisiana's coast. While the visible oil is disappearing, said sport-fishing charter captain Ryan Lambert, owner of Buras, La.-based Cajun Fishing Adventures, he also is witnessing the disappearance of land off the Louisiana coast.

"We're really paying for what happened," he said. "There's total islands gone. There's large areas of marsh that are gone. It's taken away the vegetation and the things that held the marsh into place."

The BP oil spill leaked an estimated 4.6 million barrels of oil into gulf waters. The company is defending itself in a New Orleans courtroom against charges that it was grossly negligent in protecting the gulf waters from the hazards of an oil spill. 

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