Studies of the potential impacts of Deep Water Horizon oil are continuing. A team of more than 100 veterinarians, biologists, and trained handlers from around the world completed a bottlenose dolphin health assessment project in Sarasota Bay during May 6-10, 2013. They sampled about 10% of the members of the locally resident dolphin population. Under a federal scientific research permit from NOAA, each of 15 dolphins was encircled with a net in shallow water, sampled and examined aboard a specially designed veterinary examination vessel, and then released at the capture site.
One of the primary objectives of this project was to collect samples and diagnostic measurements from Sarasota Bay dolphins for comparison to the same health parameters for dolphins in bays exposed to oil from the April 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico, as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Because Deep Water Horizon oil did not reach Sarasota, and extensive background data are available for the locally resident dolphins, Sarasota Bay dolphins serve as a reference population.
A related study in 2011 showed significant health differences between dolphins in Sarasota Bay and those in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, which faced heavy oiling from the spill. The current research is a follow-up to the 2011 study.
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