Marine Mammal Researchers Chronicle a Decade of Assessments Since Deepwater Horizon

Dr. Sharon Huston, San Diego Veterinary Cardiology uses newly developed ultrasound techniques to assess cardiac function in a dolphin in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. Image credit: CARMMHA.

Dr. Sharon Huston, San Diego Veterinary Cardiology uses newly developed ultrasound techniques to assess cardiac function in a dolphin in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. Image credit: CARMMHA.

The National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF), who leads the Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessment (CARMMHA), published a special article marking the 10th anniversary of Deepwater Horizon.

Dr. Lori Schwacke, the NMMF Chief Scientist for Conservation Medicine, chronicles the past ten years of marine mammal assessments, including studies through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

When Deepwater Horizon occurred, Schwacke led a team of field biologists and wildlife epidemiologists to help with the NRDA for marine mammals. As the spill unfolded, the focus turned to the several thousand bottlenose dolphins living in the heavily-oiled Barataria Bay, Louisiana. Their team collaborated with veterinarians to improve dolphin health assessments, which they did through innovative field diagnostics, such as lung and reproductive ultrasound, used in caring for the US Navy’s marine mammals.

Overall, their assessments show that oil-exposed dolphins continue to suffer from lung disease, abnormal stress response, reproductive failure, and immune dysfunction.

Read Dr. Schwacke’s NMMF Journal Blog here: https://www.nmmf.org/dwh10/.

For more information:

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact maggied@ngi.msstate.edu with questions or comments.

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This research was made possible in part by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to the Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessment (CARMMHA).

 The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit https://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

© Copyright 2010-2020 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) – All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgement to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Please credit images and/or videos as done in each article. Questions? Contact web-content editor Nilde “Maggie” Dannreuther, Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University (maggied@ngi.msstate.edu).