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Oily and Dead
February 25, 2011 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Gulf Coast Dolphin Death Toll Rising. Scientists clamor to figure out why 12 times the normal rate of dolphin deaths are being observed along the Gulf States. Results from an examination of 89 dead dolphins that washed up immediately after the Gulf oil spill have not been publicly released, but scientists concluded those dolphins "died from something environmental during the last year." Despite a steady drumbeat of stories in the media claiming that the Gulf has already been mostly cleaned up thanks to "teeny little janitors," getting far less media and public traction are more recent reports finding that the Gulf's sea floor is in fact still very much oily and dead.

"When we see something strange like this happen to a large group of dolphins, which are at the top of the food chain, it tells us the rest of the food chain is affected."
posted by saulgoodman (39 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nobody could have predicted...
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2011


I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yeah, it was a little uncanny hearing this reported on NPR this morning, with a description of how the dolphins are dying and a discussion of how scientists are scrambling to solve this "mystery," and yet not hearing a single mention of the spill. Yes, I know NPR has reported on the ill effects of the spill (saw your link there) but they didn't mention it in this case, and that was very weird. And I have to say that if NPR seems unwilling to draw the obvious connection, I don't doubt that other news outlets are flat-out against it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


So long and thanks for nothing.
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'll take Corexit® for the win.
posted by empatterson at 10:39 AM on February 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


gulf blog
posted by eustatic at 10:44 AM on February 25, 2011


I'm surprised they're not doubling down and telling us the Gulf's going to be even better than it used to be. That way they'd be preemptively covered for the next spill.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:44 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody eats dolphins anymore, so what's the problem?
posted by Chuffy at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And interestingly, this actually has something in common with the union busting efforts in Wisconsin, too. Both were brought to us by those lovable rascals from the oil industry.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


We can draw instant conclusions from coincidences between vaccines and autism, but we can't connect the dots here?

I'm all for a methodical approach. If there's a problem with blaming it on the gulf spill or a better explanation, I'd be happy to give that due consideration. But something is deeply wrong if the media is approaching this with "what could it possibly be?"
posted by weston at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


RE: teeny tiny janitors

There was a story on NPR when all this was happening where one member of the "How Bad Will this Be" panel was a guy who claimed that most of the oil would be eaten by sea slugs and other invertebrates. When a marine biologists called up to say "it's news to me that benthic organisms eat hydrocarbons" he just kind of stammered a lame response and repeated himself.

It was totally bizarre and I don't know how anyone could really believe that.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm honestly starting to think we need to push for congressional investigations/hearings into the health of the US media landscape, because the crushing inadequacy of the media is more and more becoming an active impediment to the proper functioning of our basic democratic processes.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


I think it would probably be wrong for NPR to say outright "this is why this is happening". But I think it's bad journalism for them to have not brought up the possibility during their story. (Which I haven't heard, so I'm going on koeselitz's account.)

Still, anyone who believed the original reports that just a few months after that mammoth spill everything was hunky-dorey in the gulf was a bit too eager to believe oil company spin. The real scientists doing the work have had nothing but bad things to say about the state of the Gulf. Sadly, their work is falling into the black hole of media neglect.
posted by hippybear at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2011


Further evidence that we are living the prologue to a Peter Watts novel.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:11 AM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's beyond me why BP still exists and has seemingly PR'ed its way out of this. The company should have effectively become a non-profit focused on the cleanup of the Gulf for at least the next decade. Where is the accountability? - And I don't meant the "pretend to be accountable until the media gets bored" accountability. If any company was begging to be made an example of, it's BP.
posted by weezy at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


What's interesting is I heard an article on Marketplace just this morning that the oil companies were trying like hell to make their case that they're prepared to go back to drilling in the gulf, and we really, really need to, because it's "becoming even more critical with the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, we have to get back into the Gulf of Mexico."

I thought it was interesting, because it seemed almost a PR move on behalf of the oil industry.
posted by Mooski at 11:20 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


From The Billfish Foundation
Research is needed to address questions about oil impacts on sargassum habitat, the 139 species of larval and juvenile fishes known to depend on sargassum in the Gulf during some stage of their life cycle; research to develop propagation, rearing and re-establishment into the Gulf of fish species that might prove to be adaptable to such techniques; tagging research, both traditional and satellite, is needed to assess movements and other life history characteristics of large pelagics; and research to assess oil impacts on water quality and the benthic zone, both essential in the life stages of all Gulf species.
At this point no one knows the long term impacts to the species’ physiology and morphology. Juvenile marlin, tuna and many other species also depend on sargassum for their early development, much of which has been saturated with oil.
posted by adamvasco at 11:22 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Research is needed to address questions about oil impacts on sargassum habitat, the 139 species of larval and juvenile fishes known to depend on sargassum in the Gulf during some stage of their life cycle; research to develop propagation, rearing and re-establishment into the Gulf of fish species that might prove to be adaptable to such techniques; tagging research, both traditional and satellite, is needed to assess movements and other life history characteristics of large pelagics; and research to assess oil impacts on water quality and the benthic zone, both essential in the life stages of all Gulf species.

Feh. Everybody knows sargassum is the weed of deceit.
posted by AugieAugustus at 11:24 AM on February 25, 2011


But I think it's bad journalism for them to have not brought up the possibility during their story.

It's also bad journalism how NPR ran several stories almost unquestionably accepting the view that the majority of the spill clean up had already been performed by mother nature's plucky little cleaning crew. I'm a little disappointed in how Krulwich (whom I adore) treated the subject, but he wasn't nearly the only one over-eager to gobble up whatever good news the scientists on BP's payroll might be able to come up with to take the pressure off.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:25 AM on February 25, 2011


The myths of NPR's liberalism to the contrary, they are about halfway between NBC and Fox - and have been for a long time now.

No one should be surprised by this.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:55 AM on February 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yup, Joe Beese; I remember the other day they did a whole story on the WI protests w/out mentioning once that the deficit was directly caused by the governor's tax breaks. This is not a partisan stance; it's a matter of fact. Not a word about it.

And then of course their constant commentator, David Fucking Brooks, whose only consistent stance is that Democrats are always wrong.

NPR is almost as bought and paid for as the other media; only their kids' programming and science shows (at least the ones filmed outside the US) make me inclined to cough up donation dollars. Oh and Frontline, the last bastion of critical newsgathering they have left.

Every weekend our local station has more and more "woo" infomercials about growing your brain/self-help crapola, ancient doo-woop bands, and some variety of bland Celtic Crap on, instead of the stuff I actually once liked them for. Oh and a show called "CEO" because Jesus knows, CEOs don't have a big enough soapbox to tell us everything they think.
posted by emjaybee at 12:03 PM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]



It was totally bizarre and I don't know how anyone could really believe that.

Vested. Interest.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:14 PM on February 25, 2011


NPR cheerled the Iraq war in their simpering, faux-objective way. They can't be trusted until all current network personalities have died off, the people they trained have died off, and the people they will train have died off. Or the revolution. Whichever comes first.
posted by clarknova at 12:28 PM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fewer public/listener dollars in NPR, the more they rely on corporate/foundation underwriting, and the more the same influences that have eroded the rest of our media are brought to bear on it, too. Which is also why Republicans are currently aiming to completely de-fund NPR and PBS at both the federal and, in many cases, the state level.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:34 PM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or the revolution. Whichever comes first.

12/21/12. It's gonna happen. Prepare yourself.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:01 PM on February 25, 2011


Pfft. Everyone knows an American revolution won't succeed during the holidays.
posted by clarknova at 1:42 PM on February 25, 2011


Pfft. Everyone knows an American revolution won't succeed during the holidays.

"Next, NPR's Mara Liasson on how the declaration of martial law is affecting retailers during the holiday shopping season..."
posted by Joe Beese at 2:15 PM on February 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Speaking of things going south over the holidays...
posted by hippybear at 2:19 PM on February 25, 2011


And I don't meant the "pretend to be accountable until the media gets bored" accountability. If any company was begging to be made an example of, it's BP.

This is the proverbial "???" that precedes "profit" in businesses that exploit natural resources; shift true costs to taxpayers as soon as possible, then complain if anyone tries to recoup the costs through taxes, fines or litigation. Only very wicked people think the polluters should actually pay the true cost of producing their wealth.
posted by Hylas at 2:56 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because I used to be a fan of the show, I can't read a story about the tea party's shadowy puppetmasters without hearing in my head, "Major funding for NOVA is provided by ExxonMobil, David H. Koch, the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, and viewers like you."

Followed of course by a whispered "in order of importance."
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:44 PM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


While they are both publicly funded, I think that conflating NPR with PBS is an error which many seem to be making in this thread, and which should be avoided.
posted by hippybear at 3:56 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP Tried to Trick Scientists Into Underestimating Spill Size
posted by homunculus at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2011


The point remains though, that both NPR and PBS get a huge chunk of their funding from corporate sponsors and high profile, superwealthy individuals with an agenda like David H. Koch, not the CPB or viewers/listeners like you.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:27 PM on February 25, 2011


I'm honestly starting to think we need to push for congressional investigations/hearings into the health of the US media landscape, because the crushing inadequacy of the media is more and more becoming an active impediment to the proper functioning of our basic democratic processes.

Yeah, I'm sure those bought and paid for congresscritters will get right to the heart of the bought and paid for media problem.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:00 PM on February 25, 2011


Not that I have a better idea. Sorry for being so cynical.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:08 PM on February 25, 2011


No need to apologize for being cynical these days.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:13 PM on February 25, 2011


At this point, I don't even know if it's cynical when I start wondering when the oil lobby is going to start the push for cutting what little environmental regulation remains in the Gulf on the basis that hey, since it's already all dead, why bother?
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:09 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP Paying ‘Independent’ Disaster Claim Administrator $10 Million A Year
posted by homunculus at 9:18 AM on February 26, 2011


Oil Spill Washes Up On Louisiana Coast As New Drilling Authorized
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on March 22, 2011


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