It's no surprise that the 2010 BP oil spill caused massive damage to the environment, but a new study released Wednesday makes the strongest connection yet between the BP disaster and dolphin deaths, the Wall Street Journal reports.
BP PLC funded the study, but wasn’t involved with the analysis. The study found that almost half of the 30 Bottlenose dolphins released into Barataria Bay, Los Angeles in 2011 for examination had "a guarded or worse prognosis, and 17 percent were considered poor or grave, indicating they weren't expected to live.” The dolphins suffered from lung diseases that the study argues are consistent with toxic exposure to oil. It is also likely that those dolphins affected will likely never reproduce.
"It is related to oil," says Lori Schwacke, the study's lead author and a wildlife epidemiologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The weight of evidence is there."
BP maintains that the study failed to make a direct connection between the spill and sick dolphins.
NOAA "still hasn't provided BP with any data demonstrating that the alleged poor health of any dolphins was caused by oil exposure," BP spokesman Jason Ryan said in an email.
If future studies find a link between the spill and any BP would be expected to pay compensation, though the company can appeal findings in court.