Oil Spill to Wipe Out Gulf's Sperm Whales?
Just three dead whales could push the Gulf population over the edge, experts say.
Right now between 1,400 and 1,660 sperm whales live year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, making up a distinct population from other Atlantic Ocean groups, in which males make yearly migrations.
All sperm whales are considered endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. But the Gulf of Mexico population is thought to be especially vulnerable due to its relatively small size.
The whales are now at risk from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill, because they are likely to ingest or inhale toxic crude and noxious oil fumes. (See pictures of the oil seeping into Louisiana marshes.)
"We know there's going to be some [oil] exposure, and we know there's an endangered species.