Gulf of Mexico Still Suffering: Illnesses, Dolphins, Oil on Sea Floor

Celebrations that the oil was quickly “dispersed” and “gone” after the capping of the British Petroleum spill may have been premature. It may take decades to assess the damages and to recover.

The three biggest issues in the Gulf region right now are: Oil may still be on the bottom of the sea floor causing problems, large numbers of dolphins are suddenly dying, and the National Institute of Health is now beginning to track the illnesses of Gulf clean-up workers and residents.

Our worst fear: the oil isn’t “gone,” it’s on the sea floor

Last week, came unsettling news from a Gulf region scientist, that areas of the Gulf of Mexico sea floor seem “dead” due to large clumps of dispersant mixed with oil. Dr. Samantha Joye, of the University of Georgia, has been viewing the sea bottom with an underwater roving capsule.

Dr. Joye’s most recent scientific paper on her findings in the Gulf.

BBC Report on Dr. Joye’s findings with videos from her submersible of the floor.

Blog site for New Orleans attorney Stuart Smith

Dead dolphins in record numbers this year

67 dead dolphins have washed ashore in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi so far this year. Scientists are worried there may be a tie-in to the oil spill.


Moby Solangi, the executive director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, Mississippi, said Thursday he’s never seen such high death numbers.

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“I’ve worked with marine mammals for 30 years, and this is the first time we’ve seen such a high number of calves,” he said. “It’s alarming.”

At least 24 baby dolphins have washed up on the shores of the two states since the beginning of the year — more than ten times the normal rate. Also, six older dolphins died.

In January 2009 and 2010, no calf strandings were reported, compared to four in January 2011, the institute said. During the month of February for those years, only one calf stranding was reported each year.

Blair Mase, lead marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), echoed Solangi’s concern.

“It’s not common for this time of year to recover such young animals. When you put the numbers together, it’s quite high compared to previous years.”

The occurrence has prompted NOAA to designate these deaths as an “unusual mortality event” — defined as a stranding incident that is unexpected or involves a significant loss of any marine mammal population.

Do we care about what happens to dolphins? Why, yes we DO. They care what happens to us.

New federal study on human health in the Gulf region

Most disturbing are persistent reports from spill cleanup workers and Gulf residents of various health problems. These will take years to study, but it appears the British Petroleum settlement pool is not addressing impacted residents’ medical, hospital and long-term disability expenses.

Reporter Nikki Buskey of the Daily Comet in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana has word that a National Institute of Health study is beginning now:

The study aims to interview 55,000 people who worked spill-response jobs with varying levels of exposure to crude oil and the dispersant Corexit following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April. More than 100,000 people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida will be contacted. As many as 25,000 of the people interviewed will be tracked over the next 10 to 20 years, Birnbaum said, as researchers document their health, lifestyle and seafood-consumption habits and track any illnesses, new and old, attempting to find causes and effects. They’ll collect blood, urine, fingernails and hair clippings to test for chemical exposures and other ailments.

The National Institutes of Health has $17.8 million committed to the Gulf worker study, with $6 million coming from BP.

“This is the largest study ever conducted on human health in the aftermath of an oil spill,” Birnbaum said.

Of more than 30 post-oil-spill investigations done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, just two looked at long-term health, she said.

The study’s first recruiting letters will go out beginning Feb. 28, Birnbaum said. Home visits and interviews will begin in May.

There are many videos of oil spill workers and Gulf residents who are now documenting their illnesses and symptoms for the sake of history and getting some help. I post a few of these not knowing the veracity of each person. There are literally dozens and dozens more. I cannot believe in my heart that these are “made up” sores and symptoms.

I confess I may be someone who was too ready to have the spill be “solved” too soon.
Related stories from the Daily Comet:

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