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NOAA Says Dolphin Deaths in Gulf Require A Lot Of Analysis

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NOAA Says Dolphin Deaths in Gulf Require A Lot Of Analysis

Today, the NOAA released a set of statements describing an “unusual mortality event” in the Gulf of Mexico where hundreds of dolphins are tuning up dead on the shores.

NOAA statements to the press about the event are oddly cautious and reserved regarding the BP oil spill as a potential cause, considering the vast amount of evidence that exists which suggests that’s the case.

In its statements to CNN, the NOAA seems to point everywhere but the oil spill itself.

In a CNN article published April 8, 2011, Blair Mase of the NOAA told reporters that the 406 dolphins that have been reported dead since February 2010 is, “quite a complex event and requires a lot of analysis.”

She told reporters that the deaths could be completely independent of the oil spill.

Taken alone, the mass deaths of dolphins could conceivably be described as a complex event, but taken in conjunction with the fact that a higher level of turtles are also turning up dead along the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the evidence is mounting that the oil spill is an obvious choice as the most likely cause.

While some of the sea turtles turned up with the usual indications of trauma, such as would be expected from collisions with watercraft, a large majority of those turtles, according to Barbara Schroeder of NOAA Fisheries, show indications that they drowned either from “forced submergence or an acute toxic event.

Yet the NOAA continues to play coy with the media, stating that, “Even though they have oil on them, it may not be the cause of death. We want to look at the gamut of all the possibilities.”

BP Litigation and Liability

The NOAA’s caution – and some might say fear – about specifically tying the events to the oil spill may be due to the fact that such statements would imply that BP is liable for the mass deaths. The NOAA caution is worrisome, and the reason for it may be even more disturbing.

The NOAA plays a large part in oil exploration studies in collaboration with major oil companies, and connections and relationships between the NOAA and the oil industry is a serious concern in a situation where major liability is involved.

Teri Rowles, of the NOAA Fisheries Stranding Program made the strongest statement against pointing the finger directly at the oil industry when she stated to reporters:

“We are looking at what is the impact of the oil spill and the response activities to the oil spill event, and what impact they had on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. We did not say that the dolphins have died because of the oil, just that they have come back with oil on them.”

Caution in the face of active lawsuits and liability concerns is understandable, but reports from NOAA scientists late last year paint the picture of an agency that may be doing more to protect BP and the oil industry than to protect the interests of the public and the ecosystem of the Gulf.

NOAA Scientist Blows the Whistle

It was only last year that NOAA researcher Vernon Asper told that his own efforts to explore and understand the unique nature of the oil spill – and the deep-water slick it has created – were essentially dismissed and partially covered up by the NOAA. So, it is no surprise that the NOAA continues to take the same stance in light of new evidence that implicates BP.

In the Nature article, Asper described how he and his fellow scientists noticed that the nature of the BP oil spill was unlike most others.

During their measurements utilizing sensitive instruments, such as a fluorometer which can scan deep water with a narrow beam of light, Asper and the team noticed evidence of a “deep, hidden plume of oily water” rushing away from the well at about 1,000 to 1,400 metres deep.

This, of course, flies in the face of how most people understand oil to behave – oil is supposed to “float” on water. A stream of oil deep under the surface flies in the face of conventional understanding, and makes standard techniques to clean the water useless.

Immediately, scientists started to question whether the use of oil dispersants (used by BP for the first time underwater) at the wellhead was the reason that the oil was sinking rather than floating. However, such a finding would vastly widen the scope of BP’s liability as well as the future impact the spill would have on the environment.

Now, half a year later, dead sea turtles are turning up with signs of acute toxicity or “forced submergence”, and dophins are turning up dead with evidence of oil on them.

The Evidence and NOAA Response

While there was no reason to jump to conclusions about the deep plume spotted by researchers, there was also little reason for NOAA to discredit their own researchers when Asper told reporters about the preliminary findings.

Upon reaching shore, Asper faced a media frenzy. After reporting the preliminary findings to the media (and those findings being blown out of proportion by the mainstream media), the NOAA immediately launched a campaign to downplay the findings – much like today with the mass death of sea turtles and dolphins.

The NOAA issued a public statement calling the media reports misleading and inaccurate.

Even more troubling was that the NOAA falsified the scientists findings by reporting to the media that the team felt “oxygen levels were not low enough to be of concern, and that any connection to subsea dispersant use was only speculative.”

That statement was issued without ever consulting with the team beforehand.

Over the next few weeks, University of South Florida researchers corroborated the findings. Once again NOAA criticized the research findings by claiming the samples were improperly collected.

Following the spill, as independent scientific groups continue corroborating signs of the sub-surface oil plume and oxygen depletion in the water, the NOAA continues to drag its feet in all assessments and analysis.

It appears that in this latest case of the death of hundreds of dolphins in the gulf, the agency hopes to drag its feet by looking at “the gamut of all the possibilities”, rather than focusing effort on confirming the one possibility that is the most obvious.

Originally published on

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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