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Study: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disrupted Dolphin Reproduction
By Ian Seldrup, November 5, 2015 @ 09:30 AM (EST)
Source: CBS News

A new U.S. Government study looking at the health of a population of common bottlenose dolphins in a Louisiana bay polluted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has concluded that the animals’ reproduction rates were severely affected long after the disaster.

Ten pregnant dolphins were monitored by the research team and it was found that just two of the dolphins ultimately gave birth to calves. Dolphins have been the focus of work to assess the long-term damage wrought by the spill ever since scientists discovered the animals suffering abnormalities and lung diseases attributed to oil contamination.

In the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Academy of Sciences, researchers tagged and monitored 32 dolphins in total over four years. The team found not only high mortality rates but also chronic diseases affecting the dolphins’ reproductive ability. While an estimated 35 percent of the 2,300 dolphins living in Barataria Bay, an estuary south of New Orleans where the research was conducted, died as a direct result of the spill, it is only now that the longer-term effects are becoming evident.

Lead researcher Lori Schwacke, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wildlife epidemiologist, said: “The take-home message is that this dolphin population, as well as other dolphin and whale populations that were exposed to the Deepwater Horizon oil, will take a long time to recover.”

Read more here.




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