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Research Shows Link Between Environment, Dolphin Health

This deceased dolphin's ribs clearly are visible. It's not clear why the Indian River Lagoon's dolphins died of emaciation. Photo courtesy Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute

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New research reveals the critical role the environment plays in dolphin health.

The study compared dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon and Charleston, S.C., with those at the Georgia Aquarium and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.

Lead author Patricia Fair of the Medical University of South Carolina says the analysis found the wild dolphins’ immune systems were more stimulated than those of the captive animals.

“The environment plays a very important role in the immune responses of dolphins. If we can see those types of responses between animals that are living in very different conditions, that is a major contributor to their immune function.”

She attributes the difference to the pathogens and pollution wild dolphins face. A spate of unexplained dolphin deaths in the Indian River Lagoon in recent years remains unexplained.


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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist whose work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. She began her career at The Associated Press. Her book on the Everglades, under contract with Johns Hopkins ... Read Full Bio »

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