Dolphin Deaths Blamed on Oil Spill, Cold

Record die-off had mystified scientists

Bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Florida

Bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Florida     Photo: Peter J. Markham/Flickr

A record number of dolphins were killed last spring by a combination of cold weather, cold fresh water from snowmelt, and the Deepwater Horizon spill, according to a new study. While dolphins are able to adapt to natural temperature fluctuations, the paper published in PLoS ONE suggests that disruption to their food supply combined with cold weather weakened pods to the point of die-off. "Studies show that dolphins were in poor condition after Deepwater Horizon and some particularly cold winters, and we know from the NOAA analysis that some had Brucella," lead author Ruth Carmichael said. "For animals already stressed and in poor condition, this freight train of cold fresh water could certainly have affected the timing of mortality."

Via Nature

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