Dolphins Become Very Sick after Oil Spill

March 10, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. rig /rɪg/ (n.) – a drilling facility for oil and gas
Example: The company built an oil rig in the middle of the ocean.

2. pneumonia /nʊˈmoʊnyə, -ˈmoʊniə, nyʊ-/ (n.) – a disease affecting one or both lungs
Example: Working at the chemical factory for ten years gave him pneumonia.

3. fetus /ˈfitəs/ (n.) – an offspring that is not born yet
Example: A human fetus stays inside the mother’s womb for nine months.

4. bad shape /bæd ʃeɪp/ (idiom) – in a bad condition
Example: The sea animals are in bad shape because of severe water pollution. 

5. veterinarian /ˌvɛtərəˈnɛəriən, ˌvɛtrə-/ (n.) – a doctor for animals
ExampleThe veterinarian treated the injured dolphin.


Read the text below.
Researchers at the National Oceanic [oh-shee-AN-ik] and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US found seriously ill and dying dolphins off the coast of Louisiana [loo-ee-zee-AN-uh, loo-uh-zee-, loo-ee-] a year after the worst oil spill in US waters.

On April 22, 2010, the oil rig facility of British Petroleum (BP) situated in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and sank. On the same day, an oil leak was discovered. The oil spread continuously for 87 days until it covered 68,000 square miles of the gulf. The spilled oil amounted to 4.9 million barrels.

This oil spill, which killed 11 people, is so far the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

A year after this incident, a team led by Lori Schwacke [lo-ri SHWAH-kee] from NOAA found 16 bottlenose dolphins with pneumonia, liver disease, missing teeth, and abnormal hormone levels. The team also found one pregnant female dolphin carrying a dead fetus.

Schwacke said this is the first time she has seen such a high number of very sick animals. She also said that some dolphins were in such a bad shape that the veterinarians did not expect them to live very long.

BP, one of the giants in the oil industry, said the report does not have enough evidence to say that the oil spill caused the dolphin’s diseases. It even challenged NOAA to release the results of the unusual dolphin deaths which happened three months before the oil spill.

Since there were no studies of dolphin health done in that area before, Schwacke’s team admitted that they cannot prove the oil spill caused the diseases. However, they are sure that the diseases were not caused by common pollution because of the amount of chemicals in the dolphins.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Should BP still be responsible for damages of the oil spill three years after the incident? Please explain.
·         How can BP improve its image as a company after the incident?

Discussion B

·         How can we preserve wild animals while improving technology and industry? Explain.
·         In your country, what are the threats to wildlife?


March 10, 2014