(October 13, 2017) --

A newly funded project by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will include Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of South Alabama. Dr. Carmichael is a co-investigator in the Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessment (CARMMHA) lead by Dr. Lori Schwacke with the National Marine Mammal Foundation. 

The research consortium will address a number of scientific questions that have emerged with respect to the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on marine mammals, such as the bottlenose dolphin. Consortium members will collect new data on dolphin health and diet, and combine the new information with data collected in past studies to provide a comprehensive understanding of the health impacts to dolphins from oil-associated chemicals. This information will then be used to model current conditions, and determine future recovery timelines for dolphin populations.

Dr. Carmichael will lead the portion of the research related to understanding changes in dolphin diet following the oil spill, and understanding whether nutritional stress contributed to dolphin strandings or mortality following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"The Deepwater Horizon disaster may have affected the prey species for dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which could have indirect effects on the nutritional state of dolphins," Dr. Carmichael explained.  "We look forward to working with this excellent team of multidisciplinary researchers from across the country to improve our understanding of how oil-associated chemicals may affect the health of bottlenose dolphins, which are common along our coastline.  The data we collect will help to better define both harm and recovery trajectories for these species," Dr. Carmichael said. 

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative was established in wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to oversee grant funding for oil spill research. To date, GoMRI funding has resulted in more than 915 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 3,600 scientific conference presentations. 

“The findings from these studies will benefit society by informing new strategies to prevent and mitigate any negative effects of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, Chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. 

To see a list of all research grants awarded by GOMRI, click here