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Some Gulf Dolphins Are Gravely Ill Following Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Published on: 12/19/2013

Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana's Barataria Bay have lung damage and adrenal hormone abnormalities not previously seen in other dolphin populations, according to a new study published Dec. 18, 2013 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study was conducted in August 2011 by a team of government, academic, and non-governmental researchers as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which heavily oiled Barataria Bay.

These findings are in contrast to dolphins sampled in Sarasota Bay, Fla., an area not oiled by the Deepwater Horizon spill. For NCCOS's Dr. Lori Schwacke, the study's lead author and veteran of a number of similar dolphin health studies across the southeast, the findings are troubling: 'I've never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals - and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities.'

For more information - including video and an interview with the study's authors - see NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog.

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