Dolphin, sea turtle deaths only the tip of the iceberg

Oil spill impacts below the ocean's surface remain unseen

06-01-2010 // Aislinn Maestas
Sea turtle struggles in oil slick

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have confirmed at least one dead dolphin and one dead sea turtle have visible signs of oil damage. So far, 29 dead dolphins and 227 dead sea turtles have been collected within the BP oil spill area, but the vast majority have not been tested for oil.

As NWF senior scientist Dr. Doug Inkley explains, these numbers tell only part of the story: “The deaths of dolphins and sea turtles are particularly tragic, because we know we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with those that have been washed up onshore and tested.”

Researchers have reported at least two massive underwater plumes of oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. The effect of these plumes on marine life remains hidden beneath the ocean’s surface, making it impossible to capture the full scope of the oil spill’s impact.

To better understand what is happening below the surface, members of the National Wildlife Federation along with Dr. Kevin Boswell of Louisiana State University recently lowered a remote operated vehicle 200 feet down into waters off the Gulf shore. You can watch a video of what they found here.

As officials warn that oil from the spill could keep spewing until August, the National Wildlife Federation continues to work around the clock to be the voice of wildlife during this crisis.

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