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Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals

FEB. 1, 2017 — The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in significant environmental harm over a large area of the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent shorelines, and affected numerous species including endangered and threatened sea turtles and protected marine mammals. 

Dolphins on the water's surface.
Studies showed dolphins were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (NOAA)

These populations will require significant restoration efforts to offset impacts from the spill. A special issue of Endangered Species Research, published Jan. 31, 2017, features 20 scientific articles summarizing the impacts of the oil spill on marine mammals and sea turtles. The scientific studies, conducted by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration authors and partners, document the unprecedented mortality rate and long-term environmental impacts of the oil’s exposure and presents a synthesis of more than five years’ worth of data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

Findings from these research studies, in addition to other studies on other parts of the ecosystem, formed the basis of the natural resources damage assessment settlement with BP for up to $8.8 billion. All of the data associated with the settlement is available publicly in the Data Integration Visualization Exploration and Reporting database, but the Endangered Species Research special issue is the first time this information on sea turtles and marine mammals has been compiled together in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Find out more about Deepwater Horizon here.

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:46pm PST