Bottlenose Dolphin Surveillance Team for the Mississippi Sound

Project Focus

The project will monitor bottlenose dolphins to learn about 1) Gulf of Mexico marine mammal populations, 2) fisheries interactions with protected species, 3) specific points dealing with federal legislation and regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and 4) fine points of forensic science as it pertains to litigation involving endangered species via NOAA/NMFS. 

NOAA/NMFS is providing relevant, practical field experience, including "field techniques for dolphins and biopsies, stranding intervention, and relevant observation procedures.

In addition to the following research areas, graduate student researchers will be trained in field collection techniques for dolphins and biopsies and stranding intervention, and relevant observation procedures.

Marine Microbiology

Pathogenic microorganisms of particular interest include: Vibrio parahaemoliticus, V. vulnificus, V. cholerae, V. mimicus, Photobacterium damselae, and dolphin viruses - especially morbillivirus.

Parasitology

The role of parasites and possible stresses caused by parasites in dolphins is examined via diagnostic aspects of parasites from necrosis, assessments of non-invasive indicators of dolphin health, parasite indicators of marine mammal origin (inshore/offshore pods) and migration, and public health aspects of known and potential oonotic agents.

Stable Isotopes (Chemical Oceanography)

Stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur in stranded dolphins and prey items in the northern Gulf of Mexico will be examined. The project will use existing complementary studies examining trophic linkages of food webs involving oyster reefs and menhaden in Mississippi waters.