Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, has compiled startling numbers on dolphin & sea turtle strandings so far. Here's what he's found:
- The 244 endangered & threatened sea turtle strandings in the spill area is 6 to 9 times the average rate.
- The 29 stranded dolphins are 2 to 6 times the normal rate of dolphin strandings.
(The range depends on whether Florida is included in the "spill area" that includes Louisiana, Alabama & Mississippi. NWF asked NOAA whether Florida is included in its spill area on Tuesday afternoon but has not yet heard back.)
"Clearly, the BP oil spill is having a widespread and devastating impact on the Gulf of Mexico's dolphins and endangered sea turtles," Doug told me. "And with the extensive use of chemical dispersants, the true extent of wildlife impacts may never be known. Using dispersants is akin to sweeping the dirt under the rug -- the problems don't go away, you just can't see them."
Also today, the New York Daily News reports on a shocking trip through the spill zone, being guided to a stranded, oil-covered dolphin:
"When we found this dolphin it was filled with oil. Oil was just pouring out of it. It was the saddest darn thing to look at," said a BP contract worker who took the Daily News on a surreptitious tour of the wildlife disaster unfolding in Louisiana.
His motive: simple outrage.
"There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don't want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It's important to me that people know the truth about what's going on here," the contractor said.
There's a photo of the dolphin at the above link. I'm not sure whether you want to click to see it or not -- it's gut-wrenching to look at, but as a wildlife lover, I feel like I need to know the full extent of the devastation.
The Daily News also reports local police continue blocking media from full access to impacted areas:
On Monday, a Daily News team was escorted away from a public beach on Elmer's Island by cops who said they were taking orders from BP.
The National Wildlife Federation is urging the federal government to ensure full media access to the spill zone. "The government cannot continue to sit on the sidelines while BP orders responders to hide the deaths of dolphins and other wildlife as a result of this spill," said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of the National Wildlife Federation.
For all the latest news on how the oil spill is impacting the Gulf Coast's wildlife & to learn how you can help, visit NWF.org/OilSpill.