Something is happening in the ocean, something lethal. An unusual amount of whales and dolphins are washing up on beaches. And as concerned as scientists are, they aren’t entirely sure why it’s happening. But they have ideas.
According to a report by CBS 4 Miami, approximately 300 dead or dying bottlenose dolphins have appeared along the shore of Gulf Coast states between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle since February. That’s about two dolphins every day.
This occurrence has led to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Stranding Program to declare it an “Unusual Mortality Event,” a special classification for the death of animals that grants additional resources to figure out what’s happening and to fix it.
NOAA official Erin Fougeres suspects that this may be related to the 2010 oil spill by BP. While he doesn’t believe the oil directly led to this, he believes that their compromised health that the event caused is making them more likely to die from any additional stress.
“I would say it’s concerning and bordering on alarming primarily because it’s a group of dolphins that have been impacted because of other unusual mortality events … So this is the same area that was impacted by the Deep Water Horizon spill.
It’s an area where dolphins have been previously exposed to oil, they have compromised health … They have lingering health issues and um, so they are more susceptible to any additional stressor; anything could tip them potentially over the edge.”
Over on the West Coast, we’re seeing the same happening to grey whales when 160 whales had washed up on the west coast shores last month. An Unusual Mortality Event was declared here as well.
The current theory as to why the whales are dying is that there isn’t enough food available to them, a result of the rising ocean temperatures brought on by global warming. These whales usually feast on Alaskan ocean-life, which has been in a sharp decline over the last few years.
This paints a poor picture for long term human survival. The planet is changing and this is an early example of how the life living on it will not survive. While it may start with whales and dolphins, it might not be long before crops start to suffer, fish follow suit, and then birds, and so on. Before you know it, the book Soylent Green has become real.