Two weeks ago, a ship and barge crashed into each other in Galveston Bay, Texas, causing almost 168,000 gallons of crude oil to spill into the water in a devastating loss for the environment.
Conservationists expressed worries right away about migrating birds, some tens of thousands of whom were in the area at the time. But a bigger concern has arisen now that dead dolphins have been turning up in and around Galveston Bay.
Sadly, it’s not abnormal for some dead dolphins to wash up during the winter season, also known as the “stranding season,” when statistics show more animals turn up dead on the shores than at any other time of year. In Galveston, however, the difference in numbers is too huge to ignore the possibility that the oil spill likely played a role.
Last year, 15 dolphins washed up during March — but that’s less than a third of the 47 that have been found dead during March 2014. And two of the dolphins showed obvious signs of external oil contamination, while two more are currently being tested. Experts say it might take months to determine whether any of the dolphins ingested the toxic oil.
Even if they didn’t swallow the dangerous substance, the dolphins — and any other animals exposed to the tainted water — could be at risk for future problems like chronic health issues and birth defects.
Whether the oil was really responsible for these precious mammals’ deaths remains to be seen, but it’s obvious that the human race is going to have to take greater pains to keep the animal kingdom safe from their mistakes.