Archive for april 2012

Cause of 3,000 Dolphin Deaths in Peru Likely to Remain a Mystery

Since mid-January, an estimated 3,000 dolphins have been found dead along the shores of northern Peru, in what has become one of the largest marine mammal dolphin-perumortality events ever reported.

Thus far, no cause has been determined, although evidence of middle- and inner-ear damage, lung lesions and bubbles in the blood are consistent with acoustic impact and decompression syndrome, leading to speculation that oil exploration in the region may be to blame.

In a statement released earlier this month, BPZ Energy confirmed that it was conducting acoustical, seismic studies in the area, but that the dolphin deaths began more than 2 weeks before exploratory activity commenced.

In the majority of large marine mammal strandings, no definitive cause is found – in part, because multiple factors are frequently at work. Toxic pollutants, for example, might weaken an animal’s immune system, making it more vulnerable to bacterial or viral infection. Persistent organic pollutants that accumulate in organisms further down the food web also tend to become more concentrated in top predators such as dolphins.

Continue reading ‘Cause of 3,000 Dolphin Deaths in Peru Likely to Remain a Mystery’ »

Tar-sand risks threaten health of Puget Sound

The risk from tar sands is too high for local and state agencies to allow these synthetic oils and raw materials increasingly to flow into Washington refineries, say a group of environmentalists concerned about the health of Puget Sound.

LOST in the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline is the reality that we have already seen a steady uptick in the flow of tar sands feed stocks — “synthetic oil” or the raw material for it — to our five Washington refineries by pipelines or from tankers transiting the Salish Sea. And there are plans on the books for much, much more.

Kinder Morgan — a multinational company also trying to build a coal-export facility on the Columbia River — intends to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C., while deepening its port there to utilize tankers larger than those allowed to enter Washington waters. Should a spill occur, the international boundary in the Strait of Juan de Fuca won’t be much of a barrier to the toxic spread from these larger vessels.

US agency stops seismic energy tests in Gulf out of concern for ailing dolphins during calving

NEW ORLEANS — With sick and dead dolphins turning up along Louisiana’s coast, federal regulators are curbing an oil and natural gas exploration company from doing seismic tests known to disturb marine mammals.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has told Global Geophysical Services Inc. to not conduct deep-penetration seismic surveys off the Louisiana coast until May when the bottlenose dolphin calving season ends. The agency says the surveys are done with air-guns that can disrupt mother and calf bonding.

The company says it laid off about 30 workers because of the restriction, which it called unnecessary.

Environmental groups are suing BOEM over the use of underwater seismic equipment and say the restrictions should be extended to surveyors across the Gulf of Mexico.

Written by The Associated Press

Speak Out for Better Protections for Captive Orcas!

Lolita is a solitary orca who has been confined to a tiny concrete tank at the Miami Seaquarium for more than 40 years. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides members of the wild Southern Resident orca population and other endangered animals with a host of protections, including protection against being harmed or harassed. Yet, despite being a member of the Southern Residents, Lolita has been denied all of these protections without any explanation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

The government’s failure to provide Lolita with the protections enjoyed by the wild members of her pod has enabled the Miami Seaquarium to keep her in conditions that violate the Endangered Species Act. Lolita must be granted the protections under federal law which she is rightfully due and which best ensure her survival and well-being, which—depending on her condition—could include transferring her to a sea pen in her home waters and releasing her back to her family pod.

In the wild, orcas live in tight family units with bonds that may last a lifetime. At Seaquarium, Lolita swims endless circles in a small, barren tank that does not comply with USDA regulations. This highly intelligent and social animal has been without an orca companion since 1980.

Sign ALDF’s petition to the National Marine Fisheries Service, urging them to include captive members of Lolita’s Southern Resident pod in ESA protections.

Written by Animal Legal Defense Fund