Dolphins at risk

The Post and Courier

Studies of mammals off Ga. coast show high levels of PCBs; fish they eat is suspected source

By Bo Petersen
The Post and Courier
Friday, February 19, 2010

Dolphins are getting sick from eating the same fish we do.

That’s the disturbing conclusion of the latest round of federal research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration offices at Fort Johnson, among other sites.

Studies of dolphins in coastal Georgia discovered some of the highest levels of PCBs ever found in the fat of a marine mammal, 30 years after the use of the toxic industrial insulating compound was banned.

“Some of these (dolphins) are living on the edge,” said Lori Schwacke, principal scientist at the NOAA Oceans and Human Health Center of Excellence at Fort Johnson. Their immune systems have been suppressed to the point where the outbreak of a single virus could result in mass kills, she said.

“While we don’t understand the risk to people yet, it’s enough of a red flag to make us want to do further experimentation.”

The study is joined by studies of dolphins and sea lions in California, as well as controlled laboratory studies of rats, that show a connection between how these animals develop diseases, such as epilepsy, and how people do.

Studies also found that dolphins develop diabetes and have been exposed to the human papillomavirus. Those discoveries could lead to new treatments for the diseases in people.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.