Sperm whales in the Gulf were already at risk before the BP oil disaster, and now their endangered population may be even more threatened.
A young sperm whale carcass was found by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship on Tuesday a mere 77 miles from the center of the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster. NOAA announced this discovery today, indicating that investigation is still needed to determine if, in fact, the toxic oil contributed to this mammal’s death. As the effects of the oil spill have been responsible for the death of countless birds and other species, it’s hard to believe that this whale could have died from any other cause. If it’s confirmed that the oil spill was responsible, it will be the first known mammal of this size to be added to BP’s death count.
The sperm whale is the only endangered whale species in the Northern Gulf that could be at risk. There has already been an impact on the sperm whale population as a result of oil drilling activities in the Gulf. Deep in the depths where this species of whale lives, oil deposits gather and the pulsing sound use to detect oil is believed to interrupt the natural communication system relied upon by the whales. With only about 140 of this species, which was the leading player in Moby Dick, in the area, their endangered categorization might not be an adequate description if things continue to get worse.
NOAA has tried to assure the public that the BP oil spill may not be responsible for the whale’s death, and has said it will take weeks to complete testing to determine the true cause of demise. The distance the whale was found floating from the spill, of course, plays a role in the need for further investigation, as does the fact that the whale was too far decomposed for any certainty. At 77 miles away, is wouldn’t have been impossible that the whale was killed at the spill site, before floating away to be discovered by the agency’s ship.
Whatever the truth is in this situation, there’s a good chance that BP will rightly foot the blame, at least that dished out by the public.
Via: DoubleBug on Flickr with a CC License