NOAA scientists and partners recently completed a 15 day capture and release dolphin health assessment in Barataria Bay, Louisiana.
The study, a part of the continuing Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, gave scientists the ability to conduct a hands-on physical exam of individual dolphins to assess potential sub-lethal, chronic, and indirect health impacts of the spill.
This study follows up on an initial pre-assessment phase of photo-identification and remote biopsy studies that documented the oil exposure of bottlenose dolphins in Barataria Bay.
Over 50 veterinarians, biologists, and wildlife epidemiologists worked together to conduct comprehensive health evaluations of 31 dolphins during the study.
Specially trained team members humanely encircled the dolphins by net, brought them to a medical vessel for a complete veterinary exam, tagged them with satellite and VHF radio tags, and then released them back into the wild.
Researchers will use the tags to monitor the dolphins over time, to better understand their movements, range, and preferred habitats, which may help with exposure assessment and planning for the restoration of the area.
For more information on the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program: