Happy New Year. We end 2013 with 15 surviving calves, for a net gain of about 10 dolphins to the resident Sarasota Bay dolphin community – a good year overall.
Our oldest female and male dolphins – 63-year-old Nicklo and 50-year-old F154, were observed through the end of the year.
Our 10-days per month photographic identification surveys to monitor the community will continue through 2014 as they have since 1992.
Dolphin research related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continued.
- SDRP staff assisted NOAA with health assessments in Barataria Bay and Mississippi Sound last summer, with Sarasota Bay dolphins being used as the reference population for comparison.
- Tracking of dolphins tagged with satellite-linked tags in Barataria Bay and Mississippi Sound continued.
- A peer-reviewed paper was published on-line comparing the health of dolphins in heavily-oiled Barataria Bay, Louisiana in 2011 to the health of the Sarasota Bay dolphins.
- Disease conditions in Barataria Bay dolphins were found to be significantly greater in prevalence and severity than those in Sarasota Bay dolphins.
- Many disease conditions observed in Barataria Bay dolphins are uncommon, but consistent with oil and oil byproduct exposure and toxicity.
- Analyses of data and samples from 2013 health assessments are underway, and several other papers are in preparation assessing potential impacts of the oil spill.
- Staff members Katie McHugh, Aaron Barleycorn, and Randy Wells participated in the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, in Dunedin, New Zealand. McHugh and Wells made spoken presentations. In total, the SDRP was involved in 9 spoken or poster presentations.
- SDRP researcher Dr. Brian Balmer has taken a contractor position with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, in Charleston, SC. Brian has been with the SDRP since 2000, first as an intern, then as he completed research for his Master’s and doctoral degrees, as a post-doctoral scientist, and finally as a Staff Scientist. He will continue to be involved in bottlenose dolphin research, and hopefully collaborate with us in the future.
- In total, 21 peer reviewed research articles were published in 2013, with 9 more accepted and awaiting publication, and 4 others being under review.
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