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Deadly Skin Disease found in dolphins said to have a connection to climate change

The disease has been plaguing them since 2005

A serious and sad fate has been dealt to one of the most beautiful and captivating creatures in the oceans – dolphins. Many have been dying after getting a skin condition, first discovered in dolphins near New Orleans following the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Termed as ‘Freshwater skin disease’ by scientists, the disease has been published in a new study and has already affected several cetaceans (the aquatic group that consists of dolphins, whales and porpoises) wherein a large number of lesions (an area of abnormal tissue) has been produced on the major part of the creature’s body.

Changes in the marine habitat

Deadly Skin Disease found in dolphins said to have a connection to climate change 1
SciTechDaily

While the exact cause hasn’t been discovered yet, it’s believed that environmental changes that affected the dolphins’ marine habitat has a role to play in this.

Chief pathologist Pádraig Duignan from the Marine Mammal Centre in Sausalito, California said that due to the record hurricane season that has taken place in the Gulf of Mexico this year with other storms happening due to climate change, we can expect more such outbreaks to happen and kill dolphins.

The disease broke out in the US, but was later found affecting Burrunan dolphins in the Gippsland Lakes of Victoria, Australia in 2007 and also among the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Swan-Canning River system in Western Australia.

The disease’s outbreak takes place following sever storms like hurricanes and cyclones, during which a massive volume of freshwater rain falls on land, which later drains onto rivers and coastal waters. This greatly affects the salinity of the saltwater that dolphins thrive in and after living in such water from a few weeks to several months, large changes start to happen in their skins.

This once again brings us to the serious topic of tackling climate change.

 

 

(Cover: Dr Nahiid Stephens)

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