Findings kept secret
The National Marine Fisheries Service hired a team of scientists to investigate an unusual number of dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast following the BP oil spill last spring, but a gag order the agency put out that prevents them from divulging their findings has prompted concern among some independent scientists about the lack of transparency, according to Reuters.
In late March, the agency informed its scientists that the findings in its dolphin die-off probe were being folded into a federal criminal investigation and should be kept on the down-low. The government began collecting tissue samples and specimens from dead dolphins after nearly 90 washed up on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida in the months following the April 2010 explosion that triggered the spill.
Since mid-January of this year, an additional 200 dolphins have died. About half of those were newborn or stillborn calves, prompting scientists to wonder if birth defects are a belated effect of the spill.