Diet of Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, that Stranded in and Near Barataria Bay, Louisiana, 2010–2012
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Diet of Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, that Stranded in and Near Barataria Bay, Louisiana, 2010–2012

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  • Journal Title:
    Southeastern Naturalist
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  • Description:
    - The largest unusual mortality event of cetaceans recorded in the Gulf of Mexico occurred from 2010 to 2014. The majority of mortalities were Tursiops truncatus (Com-mon Bottlenose Dolphin) that stranded near Barataria Bay, LA, an area heavily oiled by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The purpose of this study was to identify the diet of dolphins that stranded in and near Barataria Bay from 2010 to 2012. Micropogonias undulatus (At-lantic Croaker) was the most frequently occurring (86.5%) and numerically abundant (34.2 ± 33.4%) prey in stomachs examined. Abundance of Engraulidae, Mugilidae, and Sciaenidae varied by season. Benthic prey and presence of sediment indicate that dolphins in Barataria Bay forage along the bottom of the bay, which could lead to long-term exposure to oil. Introduction In February of 2010, an increase in the number of stranded cetaceans began in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which prompted a unusual mortality event (UME) to be declared extending from the Texas–Louisiana border to Franklin County in the Florida panhandle (Litz et al. 2014). The UME officially ended in July 2014. The majority of stranded cetaceans reported were Tursiops truncatus Montagu (Com-mon Bottlenose Dolphin, hereafter referred to as “Dolphin”). Strandings between February and April 2010 were concentrated around Lake Pontchartrain, LA. Due to advanced decomposition, the cause could not be determined, although decreased salinity and temperatures are suspected due to increased rain and colder than normal temperatures (Venn-Watson et al. 2015a). On 20 April 2010, the Deepwater Hori-zon (DWH) incident occurred, releasing 4.9 million barrels of crude oil through 15 July 2010 (McNutt et al. 2011, Michel et al. 2013). Following the spill, the longest sustained increase in strandings occurred in and around Barataria Bay, LA, which was heavily oiled from the DWH spill (Litz et al. 2014, Venn-Watson et al. 2015a). The toxic effects of oil from DWH were found to be the most likely causes of the persistent increase in cetacean mortalities after April 2010 (NOAA 2019, Schwacke et al. 2014, Takeshita et al. 2017, Venn-Watson et al. 2015a). 1NOAA Affiliate, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Miami, FL 33149. 2University of Georgia Marine Institute, PO Box 32, Sapelo Island, GA 31327. 3Stranding Investigations
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  • Source:
    Southeastern Naturalist, 20(1)
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  • ISSN:
    1528-7092
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