June 18th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Oil threatens sperm whales in Gulf

Heather Heenehan
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/06/18/heenahan.oil.spill.whales/tzleft.heenehan.courtesy.jpg caption="The whales' deep water habitat in Gulf severely threatened by the BP oil spill" width=300 height=169]

Our need for oil almost wiped out the sperm whale once, and now our insatiable hunger for it threatens them again.

Sperm whales were hunted in the Gulf of Mexico in the 18th and 19th centuries for their oil, but were somewhat spared when petroleum replaced whale oil as an energy source. Now, instead of hunters, the same oil that helped to save the sperm whales from extinction threatens their survival in the Gulf.

Sperm whales, listed as endangered in 1970, are social animals. The young live with their mothers for years in stable groups, and the whales dive deep in search of food. Because they spend so much of their lives undersea, our knowledge of their behavior and community structure is limited. We have a lot to learn before we can say we truly know these animals.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Gregory

    My heart bleeds for the ocean, living beings and people of the gulf.
    I am starting to think twice about all the yelling, "don't halt the drilling...
    Sounds like 'Please save us ... but we demand the right to possibly kill the ocean...

    June 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Ali Hunt

    I neglected to say thank you, Anderson for staying on this horrible disaster and seeing it through. Barton should be removed from his position even thought the British love him now! Wonder how much $ he was paid for his apology?!?

    June 18, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  3. Ali Hunt

    Anderson, now the whales? This is just criminal!!! It has always been criminal! I read on the BBC news site that Tony Hayward has been replaced by Bob Dudley...is this true?? Does Toxic Tony now get his life back with a fat bonus check?? I also read that Svanberg has only been in oil w/BP for 5 months???? That explains a lot!

    June 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm |