When the BP Gulf Oil Spill began, soon to become Americas biggest oil disaster, this blog quickly focused attention on a small research team out of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory who had been studying Whale sharks in the region for the past several years.
Their research site turned out to be an oily ground zero.
Our coverage, with the help of several other blue bloggers, lead to timely mainstream media pieces that picked up this unfolding eco disaster and followed it to its frustrating conclusion.
Or was it?
National Geographic has a first rate follow up about the effects millions of gallons of spilled oil has had on these gentle giants in the region and is a must read:
Though much of the Gulf oil has disappeared from the surface, the spill isn't going away—and scientists are still trying to uncover the extent of its invisible effects on Gulf wildlife.
(Read about the Gulf oil spill in the October issue of National Geographic magazine.)
For instance, certain toxic ingredients of oil—and even the chemical dispersants used during the cleanup—could potentially cause long-term problems for whale sharks and many other species. Those may include compromised endocrine or immune response systems, scientists note. (See related blog: "Gulf Seafood With a Side of Oil Dispersant?")
Whale sharks filter a lot of water through their mouths and gills—almost 160,000 gallons (605,000 liters) of water an hour—as they feed on tiny plankton and fish.