Destructive skin disease covering up to 70% of a dolphin’s body linked to climate change – ScienceDaily

Scientists at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA – the largest marine mammal hospital in the world – and international colleagues have identified a modern skin disease in dolphins linked to climate change. The study is a groundbreaking finding, as this is the first time since the disease first appeared in 2005 that scientists have been able to link a cause to the condition that affects it. on coastal dolphin communities around the world. As a result of the amount of salt water caused by climate change, the dolphins become brittle and build up skin lesions all over their bodies – sometimes covering up to 70 percent of their skin.

The international study, found here, was co-authored by three internationally respected scientists, from California and Australia:

  • Dr. Patrick Duignan, Principal Pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center
  • Dr Nahiid Stephens, veterinary pharmacist at Murdoch University (Perth, Australia)
  • Dr Kate Robb, Founding Director, zoologist, and geneticist at the Marine Mammal Foundation (Victoria, Australia)

The study, published in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed natural science journal, provides the first-ever case explanation for freshwater skin disease in dolphins.

This study comes on the heels of major moments in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas and Australia in recent years. In all of these places a sudden and drastic decrease in salinity in the waters was the common factor. Coastal dolphins are accustomed to seasonal changes in salinity levels in their marine habitat, but do not live in freshwater. More and more storm events like hurricanes and cyclones, especially if they are thirsty, are throwing rare water that turns coastal waters into freshwater. A freshwater situation can last for months, especially after severe storms such as Harvey and Katrina hurricanes. With rising climate temperatures, climate scientists have predicted that such major storms will become more frequent and, as a result, more frequent and more serious illnesses in dolphins. .

“This terrible skin disease has been killing dolphins since Hurricane Katrina, and we are happy to finally explain the problem,” Duignan said. “With a higher rush season in the Gulf of Mexico this year and more severe storm systems around the world due to climate change, we can expect to see more of these devastating events killing dolphins. “

The study has a major impact on the conventional behavior in Australia, which affects the Burrunan dolphin in southeastern Australia, and which may be, and may be, endangered. provide the information to professionals to detect and treat affected animals. Currently, the long-term prognosis is for dolphins with severe skin disease. This is especially true for the animals that suffer from prolonged periods of freshwater.

The deadly skin disease was first identified by researchers in about 40 bottlenose dolphins near New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“As warming ocean warming affects global marine mammals, the findings in this paper will allow for a better mitigation of the factors that lead to disease outbreaks for existing coastal dolphin communities. the risk of habitat loss and pollution, “said Duignan.” This study will help shed light on growing concerns, which we hope will be the first step in mitigating the deadly disease and leading the ocean community to fight climate change. “

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