Dolphins in Barataria Bay are severely ill, NOAA says

Wildlife News

Published: Friday, March 23, 2012, 1:05 PM    

Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune

Bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay are showing signs of severe ill health, according to NOAA marine mammal biologists and their local, state, federal and other research partners, NOAA announced today. Barataria Bay received heavy and prolonged exposure to oil during the 2010 Gulf spill after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded.

The NOAA conclusion is based on the results of comprehensive physicals given to 32 live dolphins from Barataria Bay during the summer in 2011. Preliminary results show many of the dolphins were underweight, anemic, had low blood sugar and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease. Nearly half also had abnormally low levels of the hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.

Researchers fear that some of the study dolphins are in such poor health that they will not survive, said a NOAA release issued today. One of those dolphins, last observed and studied in late 2011, was found dead in January 2012.

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