Dolphins and Whales Dying in Gulf
A recently released report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2010-2011 Cetacean Unusual Mortality Event in Northern Gulf of Mexico, addresses the high rate of dolphins and whales (cetaceans) washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010-2011. Compared to the previous decade, the average annual occurance has increased up to 4 times.
Strandlings are cetaceans that wash up on shore already deceased or in need of medical care and unable to to get back into open water on their own. In the 22 month period from January 2010 to mid October 2011, 562 cetacean strandlings have been found in the Gulf of Mexico region. In the period from 2002-2009, the average number of strandlings in the same 22 month time period was 11.5.
Of the cetacean strandlings in the 22 month period from 2010-2011, almost all (96%) were deceased and a higher number of premature and stillborn strandlings were present compared to previous years. Though the reason for these deaths is not determined, the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in April 2010 is thought to be a likely cause.
Historical data recording strandlings in this region is available on the NOAA website.