(ANIMAL WELFARE) LOUISIANA — Dolphins living in one of the worst areas affected by the BP oil spill are showing symptoms of serious illness. Barataria Bay off the coast of Louisiana houses dolphins whose ailments include low weight, low blood sugar, cancer, and an unusual low amount of stress hormones resembling cortisol. Read on to discover the lasting effects the Gulf oil spill has on dolphins. — Global Animal 
A pod of bottlenose dolphins swim under the sheen of oil in the waters of the Gulf. Photo Credit: the lovely girl via Flickr (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The New York Times

Dolphins in Barataria Bay off Louisiana, which was hit hard by the BP oil spill in 2010, are seriously ill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.

The agency said it was likely that the dolphins’ ailments were related to toxic substances in the petroleum, although evidence of a link was not conclusive.

Scientists from the agency performed comprehensive physicals last summer on 32 dolphins from the bay as part of a continuing assessment of damage caused by the spill.

They found problems like drastically low weight, low blood sugar and, in some cases, cancer of the liver and lungs. 

Yet the most common symptom, found in about half of the dolphins, was an abnormally low level of stress hormones like cortisol. Such hormones regulate many functions, including the immune system. 

Lori Schwacke, the lead scientist for the health assessment, said control groups of dolphins along the Atlantic coast and in other areas did not manifest those symptoms.

More New York Times: www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/us/scientists-find-serious-illnesses-in-gulf-dolphins.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss