Coverup No More: Shocking Photos Dead Wildlife from Gulf of Mexico Spill Emerge

This article was published in partnership with

Some two and a half years after the BP oil spill, Greenpeace has obtained emails and photos from a U.S. government agency that reveal the extent to which the government tried to shield the public from the wildlife casualties of the spill.

The Guardian reports that the FOIA-obtained documents show that shortly after the Deepwater Horizon disaster the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) witnessed several whales coated in oil near the site of the spill and one large sperm whale that had died.

[T]he discovery of the decomposed carcass set off a flurry of emails – with repeated instructions from NOAA officials to crew aboard the Pisces not to release information or photographs.

The crew were also directed to obtain samples from the whale to try to determine if it was killed as a result of the spill, and to mark the corpse....

NOAA did put out a press release about the dead whale. However, the release was edited and shortened in a way which appeared to minimise the effects of oil on whales.

The article notes that this information is not only important for the public to be aware of; it also will help determine BP’s final pay-out amount to the government. Indeed, BP “still faces claims from the federal government for environmental damages, and accounting for wildlife killed as a direct result of the spill – from dolphins to turtles to whales – will be critical to the final bill.”

Here’s a (rather gruesome) image of the dead sperm whale, as obtained by Greenpeace from the NOAA:


Unsettling as that image is, the sheer number of creatures harmed by the BP spill are even more devastating. For instance, these eyeless shrimp are among the many deformed sea creatures found in the wake of the BP spill:


(image via Al Jazeera)

Meanwhile, an unusually high number of dolphins, many of them calves, were found in early 2011. Researchers believe the spill played a role. 


(image via University of Central Florida)

Clicking through Greenpeace’s Gulf Oil Spill photo set on Flickr is a gut-wrenching reminder of the spill’s impact on the region’s environment and wildlife. Take for instance this pelican, which was being evaluated by members of the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research team.


(image via Greenpeace on Flickr)

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.