A study published by the Ocean Conservation Society determined that skin lesions and physical deformities on Bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Southern California are connected to environmental factors like sea temperature and salinity, and man-made pollutants like urban runoff washing into the ocean. 80% of the dolphins in their study are suffering from skin lesions and deformities, mainly due to the bioaccumulation of toxins and, as a consequence, they suffer from immunological and reproductive disorders. Marine animals off the Eastern North Pacific are known to have the highest levels of DDT in their system, a dangerous insecticide which decreases reproduction rates. Photo-identification and regular monitoring of bottlenose dolphins off California, both coastal and offshore populations, and comparing them to other locations along the Pacific Coast and worldwide are vital to collect data on the frequency of these lesions and deformities and any variations in presence and time.
The health of bottlenose dolphins, and other apex predators, are key indicators of the health of the ocean ecosystem. Unhealthy apex-predators raise the alarm of a larger issue regarding the future impact on ocean health and human health, ranging from contaminated fish to parasites and pathogens. Apex predators maintain equilibrium by regulating populations within an ecosystem and allow for a multitude of different species to thrive and realise their ecological niches simultaneously. Many ocean ecosystems are currently experiencing the effect of a decline in apex-predator numbers which destroys the natural balance of the food chain. As prey populations explode and consume more and more food, the habitat and the ecosystem quickly start to degrade. Research which aims to track the progression of new, returning or poorly known pathogens and diseases is crucial for dolphin conservation efforts and to understand the future implications to human health.
Your impact donation is helping to achieve the below Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations.
We are the only organization conducting long-term, year-round research on cetaceans and pinnipeds off Los Angeles. We mainly focus on studying whales and dolphins and their interactions with other species like humans and the impact that has on the environment. We also conduct educational outreach programs directed towards local stakeholder and the general public to bring about policy changes and raise public awareness about conservation and the threats to our environment.