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WWU Peninsula Lecture, Poulsbo: Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its significance for the Salish Sea

“Findings from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill lead to heightened worries for orcas in the Salish Sea
Presented by Dr. Tracy Collier

Our knowledge of how oil spills affect whales and dolphins was greatly increased by work done after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This largest ever spill in US waters substantially impacted coastal bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana and Mississippi, and research on these animals showed effects that were much more severe and long-lasting than were previously thought to occur. With a strong likelihood that there will be new and larger pipelines built to move oil from the Alberta tar sands to ports in British Columbia, the risks of shipping and transport accidents, leading to oil spills in the Salish Sea, are likely to increase as well. Resident killer whales (orcas) are already under considerable stress from a range of human activities, and a major oil spill in the waters that they call home could well tip sensitive populations over an edge from which they may not recover. This is especially true for the southern resident killer whale population.

Dr. Collier will discuss recent findings from studies of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, his evaluation of the risks posed by new or larger pipelines and increased transport of tar sand oils in the Salish Sea, and why we should be so concerned with the continued existence of orcas in the Salish Sea.

About Tracy Collier: Tracy Collier worked for more than 30 years at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, ending up as the Director of the Environmental Conservation Division, where his research portfolio included environmental toxicology and chemistry, assessing oil spill impacts, harmful algal blooms, seafood safety, and watershed processes.

Following his ‘retirement’ from that position, he served as the science advisor for NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative from 2010-2014, and also was a technical advisor to NOAA and other natural resource trustees charged with assessing injuries to marine mammals and sea turtles after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, from 2010-2016. From 2012-2014 he served as the Science Director for the Puget Sound Partnership. Tracy was also appointed to the Delta Independent Science Board in California in 2010, and served for 2 years as the chair of that Board. Dr. Collier has been consulting with Vietnam on regional planning in the Mekong River Delta, specifically to protect both wild capture and cultured fisheries, and he also consults with First Nations in British Columbia on environmental and human health risks associated with proposed pipeline projects.

Dr. Collier received his PhD from the University of Washington in 1988, has over 160 scientific publications, and he plans to retire again someday.”

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source: (accessed 10 Apr. 2017)