For nearly four weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, British Petroleum insisted to journalists and government representatives that the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico was around 5,000 barrels a day. As scientists and academics began to run their own calculations, it became quickly obvious this number was a gross underestimate. Caving to mounting pressure for an honest assessment of the disaster, on May 20th BP announced the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf was three to five times greater than previously stated.
A similar narrative is now unfolding around BP’s tally of the wildlife death toll from the oil spill. BP’s record of animal deaths seemed suspiciously low to many wildlife organizations, given the unprecedented amount of oil flowing into the Gulf. Five weeks after the disaster BP maintained that 43 birds had been found dead or coated in oil, and disputed whether the dead dolphins and sea turtles encountered during the cleanup were related to the oil spill. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill, smaller in both geographical scale and magnitude of oil, killed 250,000 birds as well as thousands of other marine animals. Continue reading here.