Archive for NOAA

NOAA Study Confirms BP Oil Spill Led to Dolphin Deaths in Northern Gulf of Mexico

May 20, 2015 | Posted by lbourg in 5 Years Later, BP Oil Disaster, Media Resources, NOAA, Reports, Science


Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
Jacques Hebert, National Audubon Society, 504.264.6849,
Elizabeth Van Cleve, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,

NOAA Study Confirms BP Oil Spill Led to Dolphin Deaths in Northern Gulf of Mexico 

Leading Conservation Groups Call on BP to Accept Responsibility for Continued Environmental Damage

(New Orleans, LA—May 20, 2015) Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a peer-reviewed study confirming that the 2010 Gulf oil disaster contributed to an increase in dolphin deaths in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Examining dolphins, including those in Barataria Bay, La. – an area hit particularly hard with heavy oil in 2010 – scientists found that contaminants from petroleum in BP oil caused lung and adrenal lesions that led to death in these dolphins.

In response, national and local conservation groups working on Mississippi River Delta and Gulf Coast restoration, including Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, issued the following statement:

“BP has spent millions of dollars trying to dodge responsibility and convince the American public that wildlife and habitat in the Gulf were minimally impacted by its hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled in 2010. Just two months ago, BP marked the fifth anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster by releasing a report claiming the Gulf had largely recovered from the spill.

“Despite BP’s best claims, this new NOAA study definitively links the increased dolphin deaths in Barataria Bay with the 2010 Gulf oil disaster and is yet another example of the extensive and destructive impact that BP’s oil unleashed on the people, wildlife and environment of the Gulf. Additional scientific research conducted through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment indicates that dolphins – a top predator – are experiencing impacts from BP’s oil and are still dying at higher than normal rates due to oil exposure in the Gulf ecosystem.

“Last fall, BP was found to be grossly negligent for its actions in the Gulf oil disaster. This study is a stark reminder that the oil is still in the Gulf, it’s still causing sickness and death in some species and it’s still affecting the entire ecosystem. It’s time for BP to stop denying the true impacts of the spill and accept responsibility for its actions, so that meaningful restoration can proceed.”


Since the BP oil disaster five years ago, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

A recent infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster five years later. And over the past year alone, new scientific research has surfaced:

  • A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.
  • A previous NOAA study found a large number of dead dolphins in heavily oiled places, including Barataria Bay, La.
  • Recent studies estimate 1,000,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to BP oil.
  • Modeling for a recent stock assessment projected that between 20,000 and 60,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles died in 2010 as a result of the spill.
  • A 2014 study found concentrations of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) – which can cause harmful effects in many birds, fish and wildlife – in Barataria and Terrebonne marshes, which may persist for decades.
  • A 2012 study found that oiled marshes in Barataria Bay eroded at double the rate of non-oiled marshes.
  • A recent survey found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay maximum fines under the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.


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Draft FY2015 Annual Plan, Oil Spill NRDA Public Meetings

January 10, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, BP Oil Disaster, Meetings/Events, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), NOAA

By Maura Wood, Partnership Manager, National Wildlife Federation

With everyone’s help, we are making great strides toward restoring Louisiana’s coast. Our efforts to attain the resources necessary to meet this great challenge are gaining momentum and projects are moving forward. Next week on January 14, 15, and 16, Louisianans will be able to learn about and comment on the progress being made on coastal restoration at three multi-purpose public hearings being held by Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).

The first section of each meeting will be an opportunity to hear a summary presentation of the CPRA’s Draft Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Plan and make comments on the plan. Each year, the Annual Plan details how the 2012 Coastal Master Plan is being implemented, reports on the status of ongoing work and projects and provides a 3-year projection of expenditures, as required by law. The Annual Plan provides a window into how the CPRA is allocating its resources in the short term, within the context of the long-term, big-picture vision of the overall Coastal Master Plan.

Beach habitat would be restored as part of the proposed third phase of early restoration.

Beach habitat would be restored as part of the proposed third phase of early restoration.

The second half of the meeting will widen the focus to include Gulf-wide coastal restoration plans and projects. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees will give a presentation on and listen to public comments regarding the Draft Programmatic and Phase III Early Restoration Plan and Draft Early Restoration Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. This meeting is an opportunity for the public to comment on the third and final set of projects proposed to address oil spill impacts under the Early Restoration Plan as well as the Environmental Impact Statement that assesses the projects themselves.

All meetings are public and will begin with an open house at 5:30 p.m., followed by presentations beginning at 6:00 p.m. Please consider joining us at one of the following meetings. If you’re interested in attending, please contact our field director, Stephanie Powell, at

Tuesday, January 14
Belle Chasse Auditorium
8398 Louisiana 23
Belle Chasse, Louisiana
(Get Directions)

Wednesday, January 15
Warren J. Harang, Jr. Municipal Auditorium
Plantation Room
310 North Canal Boulevard
Thibodaux, Louisiana
(Get Directions)

Thursday, January 16
Spring Hill Suites Lake Charles
Pelican Room
1551 West Prien Lake Road
Lake Charles, Louisiana
(Get Directions)

For more information:

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority:

Phase III of Early Restoration:

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Louisiana Public Broadcasting Presents: "Louisiana Coastal Concerns: BP & Beyond"

April 23, 2013 | Posted by Elizabeth Van Cleve in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, BP Oil Disaster, Meetings/Events, NOAA

From CWPPRA Newsflash:

What are viable strategies for addressing our coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills?

Source: Louisiana Public Broadcasting

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill dumped nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with Louisiana's coast receiving the greatest percentage of direct ecological damage. Three years later, a civil trial is taking place to determine the financial liability of BP and three other companies for the impact to the five Gulf states.

Eighty percent of penalties paid by the responsible parties will go toward Gulf Coast restoration. But will it be money well-spent? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently predicted that Louisiana's southeastern coast is likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of water by the end of the century. What does that mean for projects in Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast? What are viable strategies for addressing the state's coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills? Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on "Louisiana Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond" Wednesday, April 24th at 7 p.m. CT on LPB HD, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.

This week, the La. Public Broadcasting TV program Louisiana Public Square focuses on "Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond." The program will air statewide on LPB stations this Wednesday at 7 p.m. statewide, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.

The panelists are:

  • Windell Curole, Director, South Lafourche Levee District
  • Christopher D'Elia, Ph. D., Dean, LSU School of the Coast and Environment
  • Garrett Graves, Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
  • Mark Schleifstein, environmental reporter for The Times-Picayune

Kirby Goidel, Director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, will moderate. Beth Courtney, LPB president, will host.


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Two Years Later: Dolphins Struggling

April 19, 2012 | Posted by Lacey McCormick in BP Oil Disaster, NOAA, Two Years Later, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

Two years after the start of the BP oil spill, dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico are dying in unprecedented numbers. This month marks a record-shattering 26 consecutive months of above-average dolphin strandings. Only 5 percent of the stranded dolphins were recovered alive and their prognosis was usually poor.

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 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently did an in-depth study of 32 dolphins in Barataria Bay, an area that was heavily oiled during the BP oil spill. The researchers found that many of the animals were underweight, anemic, had low hormone levels, low blood sugar, and some had signs of liver damage. These symptoms are consistent with those seen in other mammals exposed to oil. One of the dolphins in the study has since been found dead.

As a top-level predator, the poor health of dolphins in the most heavily oiled areas suggests possible ecosystem-wide effects of the oil.  Dolphins can inhale oil vapors, ingest oil when feeding, absorb it through their skin or eat contaminated fish.

Scientists with NOAA are continuing to investigate the factors that may be contributing to the dolphin mortalities.

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Two Years Later: Shoreline Impacts

April 18, 2012 | Posted by Lacey McCormick in BP Oil Disaster, NOAA, Two Years Later

Two years after the start of the oil spill, a significant stretch of the Gulf Coast remains affected.

A recent article in National Geographic quotes Jacqueline Michel, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coordinator for the Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Program saying, “The current oiling, where you still see anything on the shoreline, is around 450 miles as of February 25.” The affected areas stretch from Louisiana to Florida.

An earlier NOAA report documented a total of 1,050 total linear miles of oiled shoreline in the period after the spill. In April 2011—one year after the spill began—mostly light oil or tar balls persisted on more than 500 linear miles of shoreline. Extrapolating from these two data points—both from NOAA—it appears that only an additional 50 or so miles have been cleaned in the past year.

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Mississippi River Diversions Workshop Tackles Difficult Scientific Questions

March 1, 2011 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Army Corps of Engineers, Diversions, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Meetings/Events, NOAA, Restoration Projects

By Angelina Freeman (Environmental Defense Fund), David Muth (National Wildlife Federation), and Bryan Piazza (The Nature Conservancy)

The Louisiana Coastal Area Program (LCA) Science and Technology Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) convened a meeting Feb. 23-24 on the technical issues of freshwater river diversions and the response of wetland soils and vegetation.  The plants in coastal wetlands will drown if they cannot keep up with rising water levels.

This fact is especially evident in Louisiana, where the gradual rise of sea level is made relatively worse by rapid rates of subsidence (sinking land).  To maintain surface elevations within the intertidal zone, wetlands need to add soil.  Luckily, both by capturing sand and clay from the water and – just as importantly – by adding organic matter through root growth and leaf drop, healthy wetlands can increase their elevation.

Photo by Dennis Demcheck (USGS)

One critical tool for ensuring the health of coastal Louisiana is to reconnect the wetlands to the river with diversions of river water and sediments.  Diversions mimic the natural delta cycle that was interrupted with river levees and channelization.  It is important that we develop a thorough understanding of the effects of river diversions on wetland plants and soils so that future management and restoration are based on a sound understanding of the biophysical controls on soil surface elevation and how they can be optimized for restoration.

Nutrient inputs to the Mississippi River and its tributaries have increased in recent decades, creating a desire for basin-wide nutrient mitigation strategies to alleviate problems, such as Gulf hypoxia (when oxygen concentrations fall below the level necessary to sustain most animal life, a.k.a. the Dead Zone).  While coastal wetlands have been shown to efficiently take up nutrients, there are questions regarding impacts of excess nutrients to wetland structure and function, which underscore the importance of nutrient reduction.

Scientists at last week’s workshop explored these questions from multiple perspectives and presented research investigating controls on marsh elevation, factors determining marsh soil and vegetation response,  marsh characterization, consequences of river diversions to belowground productivity, and effects of salinity and nutrients on plant growth and soil organic matter decomposition.  Abstracts of the presentations can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website.

Freshwater diversions are useful for multiple purposes, including: protecting drinking water, providing nutrient inputs to maintain plant production, and maintaining down-basin salinities to increase fish and wildlife productivity.  Most of the diversions in Louisiana are called “freshwater diversions” because their discharge contains relatively little sediment.  Many of the speakers agreed that for the restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands, it is important to maximize the amount of sediment in diversions for land building.

A position paper will be developed by a technical panel to address what is known about Mississippi River diversions, where chief uncertainties are, the direction on science needed to reduce uncertainties, and recommendations for operation of existing structures.  Presentation abstracts, other workshop information, and post-workshop products can be accessed on the workshop website.

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