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Will The Oil Spill Affect Our Favorite Time Of The Year?

Filed under: Science!Turtle

turtle laying eggs

It's turtle nesting season!!!!!!

Much like the puppy bowl, turtle nesting is an adorable event we look forward to all year.

Mother turtles off the gulf cost don't realize that their batch of little darlings are our key to finding out to what extent the BP oil spill affected the gulfs wildlife.

So far the news has been good.

As of May 24, 155 Kemp turtle's nests had been spotted on Texas shores — more than in all of last year and more than had been counted by that day in 2009 and 2008. The same is true for some other sea turtle species, although they have just started to nest so it might be too early to have confidence in those numbers.

And because sea turtles don't reach reproductive age for at least a decade, the full effects of the oil spill might not be known for years.

Some scientists fear that turtles born this season might have reproductive or health issues. Only time will tell.

For now all we can do is wait for some cute baby turtles to hatch!

[Image via WENN.]

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Marine Scientists Stumped By Dolphin Deaths In The Gulf Of Mexico

Filed under: Sad SadDolphinsDanger!Wildlife

Dolphins washing up on Gulf coast

Unfortunately, scientists are still baffled by the unusual amount of bottlenose dolphins washing up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Between February and April, 406 dolphins were found either stranded or reported dead offshore!

So sad!

At first, Marine scientists were debating whether last year's massive oil spill or the winter cold snap were to blame.

However, the shocking increase in occurrences has prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to designate these deaths as an "unusual mortality event" or UME.

Not only are a large number of dolphins washing on shore, but most of them are very young.

Despite the oil spills traumatic effects on the marine environment in the gulf, investigating officials think the dolphin deaths may be completely independent from the oil spill and are looking "at the gamut of all the possibilities."

Even with 15 dolphin carasses washing up with oil on them since the spill, NOAA Fisheries Stranding Program Coordinator Dr. Teri Rowles said:

"We are looking at what is the impact of the oil spill and the response activities to the oil spill event, and what impact they had on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. We did not say that the dolphins have died because of the oil, just that they have come back with oil on them."

Let's hope they find out what is killing these dolphins and can possibly use the information to prevent further dolphin deaths.

[Image via AP Images.]

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What's Causing Dolphin Deaths On Gulf Coast?

Filed under: Sad SadScience!Scary!Dolphins

Poor Dolphin

Make it stop!

Marine scientists are debating whether 80-plus bottlenose dolphins found dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast since January were more likely to have perished from last year's massive oil spill or a winter cold snap.

The death toll along 200 miles of shoreline has climbed to at least 82, many times the normal mortality rate for dolphins along the Gulf Coast this time of year.

The die-off has come at the start of the first dolphin calving season in the northern Gulf since the BP blowout.

But scientists at the independent Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama suggested on Thursday that unusually chilly water temperatures in the Gulf may be a key factor.

A senior scientist at the Dauphin Island lab said:

"Everyone wants to blame toxicity due to the oil spill. The oil spill … very well could have been the cause of the dolphin deaths. But the cold weather could have been the last straw for these animals."

Other scientists discount the cold weather theory - saying dolphins can leave cold waters to seek warmer areas.

Hopefully soon we will know the cause, and prevent further death.

[Image via AP Images.]

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242 Sea Turtles Rescued And Released

Filed under: Sea CreaturesTurtleRescue

242 Sea turtles rescued from cold water

242 sea turtles were rescued from cold water last week and released this week into the Gulf of Mexico near Gulf County, Florida.

The turtles were stunned by freezing water in St. Joseph Bay, due to a sudden shift in the weather, which leaves the marine creatures highly susceptible to hypothermia and unable to forage for food.

Dr. Allen Foley, a sea turtle biologist who oversees sea turtle rescues for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says:

"Sea turtles can tolerate water temperatures down to about 50 degrees, but when it drops below that, they’re in trouble. St. Joseph Bay is a long bay that is open only at the north end, and turtles may become trapped when the water cools quickly."

A mix of local residents, nature preserve volunteers, and researchers form the University of Florida all helped collect the turtles stunned by the cold spell.

The endangered green turtles were taken to Gulf World Marine Park and the Gulfwarium, where they were warmed and cared for until their health was stabilized.

We're glad these volunteers were able to get to these turtles before it was too late! Sea turtles are a beautiful, yet sadly endangered creature that we'd like to keep around.

[Image via AP Images.]

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Oil Spill Aftermath

Filed under: Sad Sad

birds covered in oil from gulf oil spill

There has been a recent estimation concerning the animal deaths from the BP oil spill.

According to Restore the Gulf, the official federal government's website dealing with this situation there have been 6,104 dead birds, 609 dead sea turtles and 100 dead mammals, including dolphins.

These numbers include the 5 states: Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.

These numbers do come from only an initial field-level evaluation and all of these deaths may not have been due to the oil.

After the animals are found, Amore thorough examinations are done, such as a search for oil in the throat, mouth and eyes to rule if the spill was to blame.

Experts collected 535 living sea turtles, 456 of which were visibly oiled. Only two out of nine live mammals collected were visibly oiled. The birds did not do so good, 2,079 have been collected alive, every single one of them visibly oiled.

[Image via AP Images.]

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Oil Spill Leaves Mark On Indigenous Crabs

Filed under: Sad Sad

Every day, we learn more and more about how the oil spill has left the ecosystem of the Gulf Coast a mess.

Today, we found this report from National Geographic, explaining how scientists have been found oil droplets inside the shells of Blue crab larvae!

So sad!

Scientists are hopeful that the oil will escape as the crabs grow and molt, but for now, the poor lil baby crabs are stuck with it.

Check out the video above to learn more.

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Massive Amounts Of Sea Life Left Dead In Gulf Waterways

fishkill9-10-101jb.jpg

Absolutely devastating.

Check out (above) this photo of a Louisiana waterway that has become overwhelmed with various species of dead sea life, which even allegedly includes a dead whale.

Although 'dead zones' - which are areas of water that don't have enough oxygen to support life - are apparently common during stretches in the summer in this area, it's normally never on this scale nor does it affect more than one species at a time.

Many have speculated that this is an indirect result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf - oil-eating microbes have been present in the waters since the incident, and those allegedly require quite a bit of oxygen when consuming the oil particles.

Billy Nungesser, who took the photos, says:

"We can't continue to see these fish kills. We need some additional tests to find out why these fish are dying in large numbers. If it is low oxygen, we need to identify the cause."

Agreed completley.

This is horrific news, and we sincerely hope that scientists take the time to figure out just exactly what's going on with these deaths.

Who knows what other unexpected long-term effects this oil spill will have on the ecosystem? Awful.

[Image via Billy Nungesser/WWL.]

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