Claim: Climate Change is Causing Skin Disease in Dolphins

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Buy an EV or the Dolphins will get it? Activists now hope our love of dolphins will induce us to accept their wild climate claims.

Devastating skin disease covering up to 70% of a dolphin’s body tied to climate change

by The Marine Mammal Center
DECEMBER 18, 2020

Scientists at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA—the largest marine mammal hospital in the world—and international colleagues have identified a novel skin disease in dolphins that is linked to climate change. The study is a groundbreaking discovery, as it is the first time since the disease first appeared in 2005 that scientists have been able to link a cause to the condition that affects coastal dolphin communities worldwide. Due to the decreased water salinity brought upon by climate change, the dolphins develop patchy and raised skin lesions across their bodies—sometimes covering upwards of 70 percent of their skin.

In all of these locations, a sudden and drastic decrease in salinity in the waters was the common factor. Coastal dolphins are accustomed to seasonal changes in salinity levels in their marine habitat, but they do not live in freshwater. The increasing severity and frequency of storm events like hurricanes and cyclones, particularly if they are preceded by drought conditions, are dumping unusual volumes of rain that turn coastal waters to freshwater. Freshwater conditions can persist for months, particularly after intense storms such as hurricanes Harvey and Katrina. With the increasing climate temperatures, climate scientists have predicted extreme storms like these will occur more frequently and, consequently, will result in more frequent and severe disease outbreaks in dolphins.

The deadly skin disease was first noted by researchers on approximately 40 bottlenose dolphins near New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Read more: https://phys.org/news/2020-12-devastating-skin-disease-dolphin-body.html

The referenced study is a little less certain about the link between climate change and dolphin health.

… Projections suggest that, on land, air temperatures will rise and rainfall will decline across much of Australia in coming decades; the combination of these drivers will likely result in overall reduced runoff and therefore reduced stream flow and lake storage. However, present climate models are particularly limited with regard to coastal and freshwater systems, making them challenging to use for biological-impact and adaptation studies. Therefore, exactly how warming temperatures will interact with the complex interplay of drivers as outlined above is uncertain, but precipitation extremes and the frequency of severe weather events such as floods, storms and cyclones are expected to increase into the future …

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78858-2

Nobody likes to see animals suffer. I guess we should all be thankful that our modern fossil fuel powered economies provide us the wealth and leisure to care for sick animals.

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December 19, 2020 at 04:13PM

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