How to — and how not to — help dolphins during the oil spill

You’ve probably encountered those “Don’t Feed the Bears” signs in national parks. Well, it’s true of dolphins also.

NOAA has put out notice that the public should not feed, corral, swim or approach dolphins in the gulf, even if they appear distressed from possible exposure to the oil spill.

But residents concerned about suffering or stranded dolphins should call in about them on the federal government’s wildlife hotline at 866-557-1401.

While they wait for a response team, they can and should:

  • Stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Keep a safe distance from the head and tail.

Tar balls turning up in Lake Ponchartrain and Galveston

Tarballs and an oil sheen were spotted on Lake Pontchartrain and in the Rigolets on Monday, prompting crews to put 600 feet of hard and soft boom at a “choke point”, to stop more oil from getting into the lake, according to government reports. More than 20 vessels responded to the site, collecting more than 1,000 pounds of tar balls and waste, which will be tested to see if it comes from the leaking Deepwater Horizon/BP well. The clean up operation continues today.

How the top kill operation works (if it works)

We’ve had to learn a lot while watching the excruciating efforts to cap the gushing BP oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico.

The latest lesson on the chalk board is about deep sea pressures. The water pressure is so great at a mile below the surface that pumping material back into the ruptured oil pipe is an incredibly difficult feat. It calls for a special potion of drilling “mud” that can “lock up” against the force of the oil gushing out, and yet not freeze before doing its job or collapse at deep sea pressures and temperatures.