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Investigation of Mechanisms for Reproductive Failure in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Understand Population Recovery Scenarios for Cetaceans

Implementing Organization

National Marine Mammal Foundation


DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)

Funding Program

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative GoMRI Grant Program


Project Category


Project Actions

Environmental Research

Targeted Resources

Human and/or Institutional Capacity

Project Description

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) catastrophe, impacts to bottlenose dolphins in heavily oiled coastal areas of the northern Gulf of Mexico were well documented. The goal of this project is to investigate direct and indirect factors involved in the reproductive impairment observed in bottlenose dolphins following the DWH oil spill in order to better understand the process for population recovery. This research project will adapt and test cutting edge medical technologies for evaluating potential reproductive system disorders and then integrate those technologies for dolphin capture-release field studies in Barataria Bay. Paired studies using the Barataria Bay and Navy dolphin populations will provide a mechanism to refine and validate new and innovative diagnostics and lend additional insight into the progression of disease that increases the risk of a negative reproductive outcome.


Cynthia R. Smith
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