La. Researcher Says She Was Fired For Raising Alarm About Dolphin Deaths

"According to studies, a major coastal project could lead to more dolphin fatalities."

"Gulf Coast researchers are raising alarms about a $1.4 billion coastal restoration project’s potential to kill and injure bottlenose dolphins. Now, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries employee whose job it was to count dolphin deaths in the state says she was fired in 2019 because her work reaffirmed the potential of the project to devastate a dolphin population.

Mandy Tumlin was the Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, or LDWF. The year she was fired, the Bonnet Carre Spillway was open for a total of 118 days to relieve pressure on the Mississippi River levees in New Orleans. Fresh water from the river spilled into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi Sound. A total of 337 dolphins were found on beaches along the Gulf Coast that year, and only nine of those survived, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tumlin said it was “disappointing, and completely disheartening” to be fired from her position while a large number of dolphins were dying from freshwater lesions due to the second opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in 2019. “We feel that this was done so that the State of Louisiana can proceed with its plan to construct and operate the Mid-Barataria Bay and Breton Sound Diversion Projects which will actually be lethal on dolphin populations in those areas due to freshwater lesions and other impacts,” she said."

Sara Sneath reports for the Louisiana Illuminator July 29, 2021.

Source: La. Illuminator, 07/30/2021