90 Percent of Monterrey Bay Dolphins Plagued by Mysterious Lesions

bottle nosed dolphins fins photo

Image credit: cheetah100/Flickr

Just as scientists make forward progress towards a cure for the contagious face-eating cancer plaguing Tasmanian devils, an outbreak of mysterious skin lesions has spread through at least on population of bottle-nosed dolphins.As much as 90 percent of the bottle-nosed dolphin population in Monetary Bay, California, exhibits one of five types of lesions, the most common of which resemble those of the poxvirus.

SLIDESHOW: Dolphins, Magnificent Mammals

The exact cause of the condition, however, remains unknown. Still, as Daniela Maldini, who led the research, explained:

Our first suspicion immediately falls on contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, organochlorines and fire retardants.

Maldini believes that these contaminants may have weakened the dolphins' immune system, making them more susceptible to infection.

Read more about dolphins:
Scientists Say Dolphins Should Be Granted Human Non-Human Person Status
Whaling & Dolphin Hunting Not About What's Being Killed But Who
First Hourglass Dolphin in 150 Years Found on New Zealand Shores

Related Content on Treehugger.com