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NYT: No Proof Oil Is Killing Gulf Wildlife

A second story along these lines from the New York Times:

Animal Autopsies in Gulf Yield a Mystery

By SHAILA DEWAN

July 14, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — … [The Kemp’s ridley sea] turtle, found floating in the Mississippi Sound on June 18, is one of hundreds of dead creatures collected along the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Swabbed for oil, tagged and wrapped in plastic “body bags” sealed with evidence tape, the carcasses — many times the number normally found at this time of year — are piling up in freezer trucks stationed along the coast, waiting for scientists like Dr. Stacy, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to begin the process of determining what killed them.

Could it be that the oil leak has caused more people to be on the look out for dead animals on the Gulf coast? Couldn’t that account for the increase in numbers?

Despite an obvious suspect, oil, the answer is far from clear. The vast majority of the dead animals that have been found — 1,866 birds, 463 turtles, 59 dolphins and one sperm whale — show no visible signs of oil contamination. Much of the evidence in the turtle cases points, in fact, to shrimping or other commercial fishing, but other suspects include oil fumes, oiled food, the dispersants used to break up the oil or even disease

[T]he veterinary detectives are relying on shrimp boat data recorders and chromatographic spectrum analysis that can tell if the oil residue found in an animal has the same “chemical signature” as BP crude.

The outcome will help determine how many millions BP will pay in civil and criminal penalties — which are far higher for endangered animals like sea turtles — and provide a wealth of information about the little-known effects of oil on protected species in the Gulf…

Tissue samples are one of the only ways to learn more about toxins in marine mammals and sea turtles, whose protected status limits the type of studies that can be done — researchers cannot do experiments to determine how much oil exposure the animals can withstand

Oil — inhaled or ingested — can cause brain lesions, pneumonia, kidney damage, stress and death. Scientists working on the BP spill have seen oil-mired animals that are suffering from extreme exhaustion and hyperthermia, with the floating crude reaching temperatures above 130 degrees, Dr. Stacy said.

Far less is known about the effects of dispersants, either by themselves or mixed with oil, though almost two million gallons of the chemicals have been used in the BP spill…

Investigators plan to take skin and mouth swabs, stomach contents, slices of organ tissue and vials of bile from animals that have died and test them for disease and hydrocarbons, as well as for dispersants, before a final report on the cause of death is written. But no samples have yet been sent to labs, because scientists are still evaluating what type of tests will prove most useful

In the end, Dr. Godard-Codding said, scientists will not find a single smoking gun. The evidence — results of laboratory tests, population counts, assessments of how well oil-drenched animals survive after rehabilitation — will all be circumstantial…

When Lt. Donald Armes of the Mississippi Marine Patrol heard about the rash of dead sea turtles littering the state’s shores, his first thought was not of oil but of shrimp boats…

Shrimpers emerged as a prime suspect in the NOAA investigation when, after a round of turtle necropsies in early May, Dr. Stacy announced that more than half the carcasses had sediment in the airways or lungs — evidence of drowning. The only plausible explanation for such a high number of drowning deaths, he said, was, as he put it, “fisheries interaction.”

Environmentalists saw the findings as confirmation of their suspicions that shrimpers, taking advantage of the fact that the Coast Guard and other inspectors were busy with the oil spill, had disabled their turtle excluder devices.

The devices are so contentious that Louisiana law has long forbidden its wildlife and fisheries agents to enforce federal regulations on the devices

Gee, does Mr. Holder know about this flagrant exercise of states’ rights? Shouldn’t he have the Justice Department sue Louisiana?

In a sense, the necropsies so far have posed more questions than answers, demonstrating how oil has become just another variable in an already complex ecosystem…

Is crude, for example, responsible for what anecdotal reports say is a steep increase in turtles in Mississippi and Louisiana waters? The population of Kemp’s ridleys has been rebounding thanks to years of protective measures. But some scientists have speculated that the spill is driving wildlife toward the coast, crowding areas where there is more boat traffic and setting the stage for fatal accidents.

In a normal year, one or two turtles might get snagged on the hooks of recreational fishermen at the piers. Now, the marine mammal institute in Gulfport is caring for 30 such turtles, a possible indication that they are desperate for food. In recent weeks, Dr. Chevis said, she has begun to see elevated white blood cell counts and signs of pneumonia in rescued turtles, both of which are symptoms of oil exposure, but could easily have other explanations

This is another, typically meandering New York Times article. But this piece, along with a similar Times article we posted last month, seems to be a grudging admission that there is no evidence that oil is killing the wildlife on the Gulf.

Though The Times is still doing its level best to try to make a connection.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, July 15th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “NYT: No Proof Oil Is Killing Gulf Wildlife”

  1. proreason says:

    If I was a wild animal, I wouldn’t want to live in a country where Obamy was dictator either.

    Come to think of it…….

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    In the end, Dr. Godard-Codding said, scientists will not find a single smoking gun. The evidence — results of laboratory tests, population counts, assessments of how well oil-drenched animals survive after rehabilitation — will all be circumstantial…

    Unlike AGW, which is “settled science”.

  3. NoNeoCommies says:

    I blame second hand smoke, fertilizer run-off, drugs in wastewater, mercury, and (of course) conservatism.

  4. eaglewingz08 says:

    Could you even imagine that any NYSlimes Editor would give a green light to a story claiming that a massive oil spill was not causing rampant wildlife deaths in the Gulf, were the President a republican? Would any liberal reporter (i know, redundant) working at a major (sic) newspaper even propose such a story were a republican president in office? While I’m pretty sure that the scientists are correct in not attributing the deaths on the spill, the fact that there are few to no reporters who would have given a republican administration the same benefit of the doubt that they give to Obama/democrap administrations is both troubling and is business as usual for these arms of the DNC.

  5. proreason says:

    Whether or not the animals are dieing from the Obamy Spill…..Bush is responsible for it.


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