The Deepwater Horizon oil spill marine mammal injury assessment
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From 2010 to 2015, a team of scientists studied how the BP Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill affected marine mammals inhabiting the northern Gulf of Mexico, as part of the DWH Natural Resource Damage Assessment process. The scientists conducted the assessment on behalf of the DWH co-Trustees, with the purpose of investigating whether marine mammals were exposed to DWH oil and what types of injuries they suffered as a result of the DWH oil exposure, and then quantifying those injuries to determine the appropriate amount of restoration required to offset the injuries. Photographs, aerial surveys, spatial analyses of the co-occurrence between surface slick and cetacean populations, and chemical fingerprinting of oiled and stranded carcasses all confirm that at least 15 cetacean species were exposed to the DWH surface slick. Cetaceans that encountered the slick likely inhaled, aspirated, ingested, and/or adsorbed oil. In this Theme Section, marine mammal biologists, statisticians, veterinarians, toxicologists, and epidemiologists describe and quantify the adverse effects of this oil exposure. Taken together, this combination of oil spill dynamics, veterinary assessments, pathological, spatial, and temporal analyses of stranded animals, stock identification techniques, population dynamics, and a broad set of coordinated modeling efforts is an unprecedented assessment of how a major oil spill impacted a large and complex marine mammal community and their connected habitats.
Takeshita , R , Sullivan , L , Smith , C , Collier , T , Hall , A , Brosnan , T , Rowles , T & Schwacke , L 2017 , ' The Deepwater Horizon oil spill marine mammal injury assessment ' Endangered Species Research , vol 33 , pp. 95-106 . DOI: 10.3354/esr00808
Endangered Species Research
© The authors and (outside the USA) the US Government 2017. Open Access under Creative Commons by Attribution Licence. Use, distribution and reproduction are un restricted. Authors and original publication must be credited.
The studies described here were conducted as part of the DWH NRDA and included scientists funded through NOAA, other federal and state Trustees, and BP PLC. The John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program and the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program provided funding for this work in addition to the funding from the DWH NRDA.
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