No, the oil would not directly cause a whale to die, but there are still some very negative effects on whales caused by surface oil from the spill. “Oil floating at the surface can emit toxic fumes that surfacing whales and dolphins will breathe. Oil can coat baleen—comblike growths in the mouths of toothless whales used for filtering prey out of ingested water—and make it ineffective for capturing prey.”
The main concern for whales regarding the oil spill is the damage oil causes to the whale’s food sources. So while a whale can survive swimming through the oil spill, how long can it survive with a depleted diet?
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