Fourth Anniversary of Gulf Oil Spill: Wildlife Is Still Suffering from Toxic Cover Up

George Washington's picture

As we noted at the time, and on the first (and here), second and third anniversaries of BP’s Gulf oil spill, BP and the government made the spill much worse by dumping toxic dispersant in the water in an attempt to to sink – and so temporarily hide – the oil.

In addition, adding dispersant makes oil 52 times more toxic than it would normally be.

EPA whistleblowers tried to warn us

Gulf toxicologist Susan Shaw told us last year:

Covering up the [Gulf] oil spill with Corexit was a deadly action … what happened in the Gulf was a political act, an act of cowardice and greed.

(60 Minutes did a fantastic exposé on the whole shenanigan.)

And the cover up went beyond adding toxic dispersant.  BP and the government went so far as low-balling the amount of oil spilled, hiding dead animals and keeping scientists and reporters away from the spill so they couldn’t document what was really happening.

As the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) notes in a new report, the wildlife is still suffering from this toxic cover up.

NWF reports:

Some 900 bottlenose dolphins of all ages—the vast majority of them dead—have been reported stranded in the northern Gulf between April 2010 and March 2014. In 2013, bottlenose dolphins were found dead or stranded at more than three times average rates before the spill. In 2011, dead infant or stillborn dolphins were found at nearly seven times the historical average and these strandings have remained higher than normal in subsequent years. NOAA has been investigating this ongoing wave of bottlenose dolphin strandings across the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010, before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. This is the longest period of above-average strandings in the past two decades and it includes the greatest number of stranded dolphins ever found in the Gulf of Mexico. In December 2013, NOAA published results of a study looking at the health of dolphins in a heavily-oiled section of the Louisiana coast. This researchers found strong evidence that the ill health of the dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay was related to oil exposure.




Dolphins in Barataria Bay showed evidence of adrenal problems, as has been previously reported in mammals exposed to oil.4 Barataria Bay dolphins also were five times more likely than dolphins from unoiled areas to have moderate-to-severe lung disease. Nearly half the dolphins studied were very ill; 17% of the dolphins were not expected to survive. The study concludes that health effects seen in Barataria Bay dolphins are significant and likely will lead to reduced survival and ability to reproduce.

NWF found many other species have also been harmed by the dispersant-oil mixture:

Roughly 500 stranded sea turtles have been found in the area affected by the spill every year from 2011 to 2013. This is a dramatic increase over the numbers found before the disaster. Other teams of scientists have reported negative impacts of oil on a number of species of fish, including tuna red snapper and mahi-mahi. As we have learned from previous spills far smaller than the 2010 event, it has taken years to understand the full effects on the environment. In some cases, recovery is not complete even decades later. Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, clams, mussels, and killer whales are still considered “recovering,” and the Pacific herring population, commercially harvested before the spill, is showing few signs of recovery. [One of the main ingredients in Corexit - 2-butoxyethanol - was also used in the Valdez spill] … the full scope of the

Deepwater Horizon disaster on the Gulf ecosystem will likely unfold for years or even decades to come.




The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the largest fish in the Gulf, reaching average lengths of 6.5 feet and weighing about 550 lbs. A single fish can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.… The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded while the April-May breeding season in the northern Gulf was underway. In 2011, NOAA researchers estimated that as many as 20% of larval fish could have been exposed to oil, with a potential reduction in future populations of about 4%.




A more recent study shows that a chemical in oil from the spill can cause irregular heartbeats in bluefin and yellowfin tuna that can lead to heart attacks, or even death. The effects are believed to be particularly problematic for fish embryos and larvae, as heartbeat changes could affect development of other organs. The researchers suggest that other vertebrate species in the Gulf of Mexico could have been similarly affected. Scientists found that four additional species of large predatory fish—blackfin tuna, blue marlin, mahi-mahi and sailfish—all had fewer larvae in the year of the oil spill than any of the three previous years.




The Deepwater Horizon spill occurred during the blue crab spawning season, when female crabs were migrating out of estuaries into deeper waters of the Gulf to release their eggs.




[Reports indicate problems with crabs.] Blue crabs provide evidence of oil tainting Gulf food web. 2. Alabama Local News. 2013. Blue crab stock declines are concern for Gulf Coast fishermen. 3. Houma Today. 2013. Locals say blue crab catches plummeting. 4. Louisiana Seafood News. 2013. Lack of Crabs in Pontchartrain Basin Leads to Unanswered Questions. 5. Tampa Bay Times. 2013. Gulf oil spill’s effects still have seafood industry nervous. 6. Presentation at the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference. The Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Blue Crab Megalopal Settlement: A Field Study.




Marine life associated with the deep sea corals also showed visible signs of impact from the oil. In a laboratory study, coral larvae that had been exposed to oil, a chemical dispersant, and an oil/ dispersant mixture all had lower survival rates than the control larvae in clean seawater.




According to a recently published federal report, oyster eggs, sperm and larvae were exposed to oil and dispersants during the 2010 oil spill. Oil compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be lethal to oyster




In the fall of 2010, even after the Macondo well was capped, oyster larvae were rare or absent in many of the water samples

collected across the northern Gulf of Mexico.




There are nearly 1000 known species of foraminifera in the Gulf of Mexico. These small marine creatures form part of the base of the marine food web, serving as a food source for marine snails, sand dollars and fish. Previous research has shown that these sediment-dwelling microorganisms are sensitive to oil damage. Rapid accumulation of oiled sediment on parts of the Gulf floor between late 2010 and early 2011 contributed to a dramatic die-off of foraminifera. Researchers found a significant difference in community structure and abundance during and after the Deepwater Horizon event at sites located from 100-1200 meters deep in the Desoto Canyon, nearly 100 kilometers south-southwest of Pensacola, Florida. Deep sea foraminifera had not recovered in diversity a year and a half after the spill.




Killifish, also known as bull minnows or cockahoe, are prized bait fish and play an important role in the Gulf food web..…This species has been extensively studied in the aftermath of the disaster because of its abundance and its sensitivity to pollution. Oil exposure can alter the killifish’s cellular function in ways that are predictive of developmental abnormalities, decreased hatching success and decreased embryo and larval survival. In 2011, Louisiana State University researchers compared the gill tissue of killifish in an oiled marsh to those in an oil-free marsh. Killifish residing in oiled marshes showed evidence of effects even at low levels of oil exposure which could be significant enough to have an impact at a population level. Additional research has found that four common species of marsh fish, including the Gulf killifish, seem to be avoiding oiled areas. These behaviors, even at small scales, could be significant within marsh communities, leading to changes in food web dynamics.




In the aftermath of the spill, a number of fish, including red snapper, caught in Gulf waters between eastern Louisiana and western Florida had unusual lesions or rotting fins. University of South Florida researchers examined red snapper and other fish and determined that their livers contained oil compounds that had a strong “pattern coherence” to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.… An analysis of snapper populations in the Gulf that was done between 2011 and 2013 showed an unusual lack of younger snapper. Further research found a significant decline in snapper and other reef fish after the spill. Small plankton-eating fish, such as damselfishes and cardinalfishes, declined most dramatically but red snapper and other larger reef fish also declined.




Seaside sparrows live only in coastal marshes, where they are common year-round residents. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill remains in some marshes, putting seaside sparrows at continued risk from direct oiling, contaminated or reduced food supplies, and continued habitat loss. In 2012 and 2013, seaside sparrows in Louisiana salt marshes were found to have reductions in both overall abundance and likelihood to fledge from the nest. Because these birds are not aquatic, exposure to oil would likely come from incidental contact on the shore or from eating oil or bugs and other creatures that have oil in their systems. Other studies have shown a significant decrease in the insect population in oiled marshes, which could be reducing prey availability for seaside sparrows.




Roughly 700 sperm whales live year-round in the Gulf’s deep waters off the continental shelf…. A researcher at the University of Southern Maine has found higher levels of DNA-damaging metals such as chromium and nickel in sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico compared to sperm whales elsewhere in the world. These metals are present in oil from the spill. Whales closest to the well’s blowout showed the highest levels.

Nothing has changed … indeed, the U.S. has let BP back into the Gulf.  And BP is going to drill even deeper … with an even greater potential for disaster (and see this).

It’s not just BP … or the Gulf.  Giant banking and energy companies and the government have a habit of covering up disasters – including not only oil spills, but everything from nuclear accidents to  financial problemsinstead of actually fixing the problems so that they won’t happen again.

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mkkby's picture

Vote rope party.  Never another dem or repub.

Ms No's picture

I was watching some of the late Michael C Rupperts videos last night and he claimed to have seen a Cheney patent that used depleted uranium for a fracking process.  I am looking for some substantiation on this and hopefully it is not true.... but at this point, would it be surprising?

Ifigenia's picture

"Gulf Oil Spill: Wildlife Is Still Suffering from Toxic Cover Up" comparing this manmade disaster with the other US made disaster "invasion of Iraq", which is more destructive to Humankind? Why there is no more talk about the Iraq Tragedy. The iraquis are children of a lesser god?

Ms No's picture

Or even better yet, Fukushima.  I am still trying to figure out if when #4 collapses (with all its stored fuel leading to the area having to be abandoned and thus, the whole shit wagon going up)  if we are all going to be dead or wish we were.

The Joker's picture

Little known fact:  Oil spill clean up pays off much more than selling the oil itself.

Little known fact:  Haliburten and BP were heavily invested in the clean up companies. 

Do the research, do the math.

toms's picture

HOLY SHIT another article on our totally corrupt government/corporate system. Everyday more articles appear informing us of more and more of this same crap...while these bastards continue flaunting all laws and destroying our futures while accumulating fortunes for themselves.

Frankly, I AM SO FED UP RIGHT NOW that I believe the only way to change is REVOLUTION...


waterhorse's picture

"And the cover up went beyond adding toxic dispersant.  BP and the government went so far as low-balling the amount of oil spilled, hiding dead animals and keeping scientists and reporters away from the spill so they couldn’t document what was really happening."

Even more disgusting, was the CEO whining about how he "just wanted HIS life back." 

Emergency Ward's picture

The Obama Administration cover-up was perpetrated because they did not know (or care) how bad it was going to turn out -- and since they wanted to control the spin in the future, they blocked access to reporters, scientists and environmentalists.

And along with the original 20 billion dollar shakedown.....

(In return for a continued soft-pedal spin), there is little doubt that BP is shoveling billions of dollars in bribes, payoffs and "other" funding to Obama & NWO Company entities around the globe -- (and they probably brag about their "public service" in the BP Annual Report).  Vote grabbing dollars, proxy regime-change NGO funding (especially in resource-rich regions -- Africa, anyone?), crony-connected "alternate-energy-go-bust-fast" startup companies, carbon credit/"environmental" promotion, et cetera et cetera.....

Augustus's picture

Adding the term "little doubt" must mean that there is zero evidence of the claim.

ebworthen's picture

Now THAT is pollution.

Stunned But Fun's picture

I don't post unless I actually know something about a situation. M family and I live in Destin. During he oil spill we lived in a condo on Okaloosa Island. It truly was aweful, We smelled gasoline coming from the elevator shafts. My wife was pregnant so we broke our contract and moved the Niceville until things settled down.

The biggest fear of the knowledgable locals was not the, however, was not the oil, but the dispersant - far more dangerous, and allowed to be dumped into the water by Obama's people. Moreover, Obama's boys refused to allow skimmer ships that numerous countries were offering to send to help us out. This allowed the environmental catastrophe to be maximal, thereby temporarily crushing the Gulf fishing industry (win for environmentalists), and further hurting BP's image, and hurting Red States (MS, AL, LA)

 However, right now, the fishing has never been better. Sea captains are catching their season limits in weeks, not months. All of this bad news above is from government sources - lies. 

Shad_ow's picture

Was down in Destin this past weekend.  What you say was apparent.  Thanks for posting.

kaiserhoff's picture

Complete and total bull shit.  I was up and down the Florida Gulf Coast for six months last year.

There have always been oil seeps in the Gulf, but it is as clean as it's ever been.

George is a kleptocrat, lefty shill, and should NEVER be relied on.


Emergency Ward's picture

Does that mean that BP gets their $20 billion back?

Toolshed's picture

I have LIVED in Florida for over 50 years, and I can tell you with absolute certainty, that you don't know what you are talking about. Who is paying you? BP?

ATM's picture

So what's different? 

ATM's picture

Junked for asking a simple question? Niiiiice.

kaiserhoff's picture

Typical of the day shift on ZH.

Spoiled children don't want to be bothered with information.

RevRex's picture

You forgot   "it's Busch's fault, he's an oilman".......

lakecity55's picture

"Sir! Bath House! We have detected a small midget sub headed for the oil rig! Arrgghhh!"
"You should watch those throw rugs, Captain."

limacon's picture

And here is the result 


Instead of general better fishing , one species exploded . 

Eating all the others . Even snappers .

Lionfish are super predators , with enhanced spines  .

Severe poisons .


You can eat them , but the poisons will get worse


Actually , Super Lionfish .Eating everything else .


The Oligarchs of the Caribbean .



Augustus's picture

Lion fish invasion has nothing to do with the oil spill.

It is another result of human intervention from releasing a non-native species into a new location.  there are many instances of that, but it has nothing to do with any oil spill.

ATM's picture

So what does any of that have to do with the oil spill? The lionfish is an invasive species like so many others that colonizes a new area with no natural restraint to it's expansion. Sort of like the story of so many different species that invaded the Great Lakes. They boom then a new  equilibrium is set with the new species and life goes on.

The lionfish is no different than thousands of other introduced species over thousands of years of human discovery.Hell the red earthworm and nightcrawler are invasive species in North America and completely changed the ecosystem that so many believe is the natural state that has lasted thousands of years. Only it hasn't.


limacon's picture

Things are not what they seem .


Mexican Gulf Oil Spill.

Andre Willers.

10 Sep 2010


Synopsis :

The biological agent responsible for eating 80% of the spill seems as man-made as the original spill . The agent has to be biodegradable . Hence , fishing is going to be very good in the Gulf of Mexico for the next decade .


Discussion :


Plan 9:

A last ditch plan involving the US Govt , BP , Venter and others who created an artificial organism that incorporated pre-oxygen molecular machinery ( archaeo-bacteria ), together with some newly designed ones .


Using principles as set out in "The Beauty of the Genetic Code" 22 Feb 2010

Reminiscent of the Manhatten Project .


When the previous plans failed , the cultivated organism was bubbled out alongside the oil-spill . It performed better than expected .


It’s population exploded exponentially , not decreasing the oceanic oxygen level below fish survival concentrations .


The lack of oxygen depletion is a signature of human intervention .


The organism grows by replicating itself , using the oil , but very little use the of oxygen in the surrounding sea-water . (Think gun powder) . Hence the explosive growth (Probably a design requirement , given the low O2 concentration in seawater.)


But this means that the products of the organism (itself or it's excretions) are high energy . Since a bio-organism was used as a chassis , these are nearly certain to be usable by other organisms in the food-chain .

An explosion in the number organisms in the food chain can then be expected .


Really , really good fishing can be expected .


Safety :

As expected , this has been kept secret , since few of the safety protocols have been followed.


From a purely environmental viewpoint :

The organism (call it Vee) will persist , purely from evolutionary principles . If Vee can flourish in the wild , it will stay and evolve in the wild . Not a problem . Oil fields can be insulated . It will be spread by ships like any other contaminant


If archaeo-bacteria have been used as part of the gene-structure (as seems likely) , oxygenation should prevent most problems involving hydrocarbons in fishes and mammals . This has been going on for hundreds of millions of years .


This means that Vee would be handled like a normal infection .


Remember , this has happened before . Only , now it is faster . Predator species will switch on unknown genes .


Interesting times .


A much less probable scenario :


That a natural organism did this .(Spin doctor scenario.)


Counter-arguments :

1.It has not been observed in other oil spills .

2.Extreme speed of propagation . Even if existing organisms switched on oil-eating genes , there are simply not enough of them in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico .

3.Lack of oxygen depletion . (The kicker) Not possible in a natural system .


Long-term Safety .

This intervention seems to have gone down quite successfully .

This opens the gates to more dubious endeavours .

Exactly my fears , as expressed in "Apology"

Humans should not have learned to stitch together codons of different numbers of coding amino acids before understanding how these are translated .

Now , anything can happen . And will .


A Personal Note:

I did not expect such a drastic , large scale application so soon . But , I suppose , needs must .

The Intervention will be a mix of :

nAminoAcids + nStops + nStarts = 1/3 * 4 ^ 3 = 1/3*64 for mammalian DNA

nAminoAcids + nStops + nStarts = 1/3 * 5 ^ 3 = 1/3*125 for mammalian DNA

nAminoAcids + nStops + nStarts = 1/3 * 4 ^ 4 = 1/3*256 for archaeo-bacteria DNA

where the prefix n denotes "number of"

Designer molecular structures will need this relationship , especially the 1/3 , since this incorporates the reserve infinity arguments to ensure stability .( Stability is the biggest problem in ephemeral DNA events .)


This will be reminiscent of the post-Cambrian on fast-forward .

The Gulf of Mexico will have high-energy food sources available , combined with

Vee and Vee-evolutionary results .


Expect some weird , but also very useful things .


Biological Kevlar armor is a near certainty .

Your nearest friendly crab would need a armour-piercing missile to eat it .

Very Green , but I doubt whether they had that in mind .

Worry if it gets into grasses .

Human predation would ensure that very strong structures survive ,

We are breeding our own survivors . Look at the numbers .


The bleed-through into human genetical structures is a certainty . Is already happening .


It cannot be stopped , either , without sterilizing the whole planet .


Gumbo anyone ?




ATM's picture
“Three men can keep a secret if two of them are dead” - Ben Franklin
I Write Code's picture

All pretty speculative.

Let's say most are likely true anyway.

But then what?


NoWayJose's picture

I trust NWF numbers almost as much as I trust government numbers.

DangerWillRobinson's picture

The elites who make billions from BP oil, and who couldn't give a rat's ass about LA, are some of the Same fucks who scream about cow farts, light bulbs, and SUV's. They are also some of the ones pushing this phony global warming shit. They want to suck our souls out of our asses with a global carbon tax, while selling us their oil and destroying our shores.

Ms No's picture

I intend on keeping my soul intact in my ass.  Also I don't know why you guys have to debate real issues when the Beibs is getting his clit pierced today and your going to miss the whole thing.

rocker's picture

Never Forget.  Greed is Good.  For the 1%.  

notadouche's picture

Where is the outrage and publictiy generally produced by Greenpeace,Sierra Club,NY TIMES, PETA, anyone in California, MSNBC, CBS, and anyone that expressed outrage over the Exxon Valdez?   What's the point in having liberal environmentlalist animal protecting goups that love to support throwing red paint on people wearing fur or admonish meat eaters and rail on and on about protecting the planet?   Where is the EPA and the groups that dump all over coal?  The groups that sneak camera's in to watch the mistreatment of chickens?  Hmmm.... 

mccvilb's picture

This stuff used to outrage me until I learned there are many agencies involved in covering up the industry's misfeasance worldwide. I think it was Spring of 2012 while researching offshore oil rig operations for a story, I discovered one company which coincidentally happened to be BP had reported 69 "spills" in the North Sea in the first two months of the year alone. Apparently reporting them replaces the necessity of correcting these repeated failures. Guess the MSM didn't see much of a story here.

That's probably both by intent and design. Back when our politicians were screaming about peak oil and demanding the administration release offshore parcels in the Gulf for drilling, this prior to the Horizon blowout in the Macondo deepwater prospect, what they weren't telling the public was that 27,000 offshore oil platforms with their identifying markings removed sat depleted, capped and rusting away and abandoned in the Gulf and most were leaking oil.

Augustus's picture

This collection from Geo Wash is supposed to be generating the outrage. Read it again for a larger dose.

ATM's picture

It isn't politically useful to the leftists to talk about this since the problems would all point back to mismanagement by the leftists leadership. Better to keep it quiet until the next baby seal is beaten by a club wielding, Cromagnon rightwinger. Then they can all show up and display their indignity for the world's "news" outlets.

Sarconomy's picture

We had a natural disaster that wiped out poor black neighborhoods blamed on a white Texas oilman. Why not blame an unmitigated oil disaster on a black president?  

The difference? It's not race.  It's that the elite couldn't give a rip about poor blacks. But they care about getting the oil flowing again.

KickIce's picture

Oh come now, how can you expect people that live below sea level and have two days of warning to make basic preparations  for an emergency?

Ban KKiller's picture

No kidding. When I first vistited New Orleans and understood the dikes (no, not those ladies) I knew, like others, it was going to be when, not if, the dikes fail in a storm. So...

Living there you either ignore the facts staring you in the face or you move. Most ignored the reality for so long they...forgot about it! Sort of like the FED, no? 

And, in the end, disaster. No matter how well prepared you flooded. 

Our monetary flood is here, aka, inflation. 

kurt's picture

A Bright And Shiny New Inquisition otta do it.

willwork4food's picture

Who authorized the use of Corexit in the first place? Those mother fuckers are the ones that should be hung. Period.

old naughty's picture

Isn't that supposed to kill the "virus" yet?