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.

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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:

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 2:09 pm

Have they ruled out the effect of dolphins eating rhubarb?

Reply to  Scissor
December 19, 2020 4:09 pm

how many false claims can they make in one article?

and the wordsmithing in the last one is just beyond belief

Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:09 pm

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

Maybe a hint for the reason ?

David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:21 pm

No. It just as likely means we never spotted it before and correlation does not necessarily mean causation

Steve Case
Reply to  David Guy-Johnson
December 19, 2020 2:46 pm

From my file of smart remarks taglines etc:

“Observing something for the first time, doesn’t mean it has never happened before.”

Reply to  Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:28 pm

Marsh gras beads. Do a search, tons are dumped every year. Or high proof piss from the drunkards.

Reply to  bluecat57
December 19, 2020 2:29 pm

Mardi Gras.

Reply to  bluecat57
December 20, 2020 6:45 am

I was wondering where one could get beads made from marsh grass.

Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2020 7:10 am

Auto correct and sitting on toilet. LOL

YallaYPoora Kid
Reply to  bluecat57
December 20, 2020 1:34 pm

Sitting – is that a word correct?

Reply to  YallaYPoora Kid
December 22, 2020 4:29 pm


Dennis G Sandberg
December 19, 2020 2:15 pm

Wild unfounded claims like this BS cause an anger induced skin rash on this human.

December 19, 2020 2:18 pm

“The increasing severity and frequency of storm events like hurricanes and cyclones”

FLAT LIE. Look up Ryan Maue, who keeps the wordwide indices of Accumulated Cyclone Energy and cyclone frequency. If anything, hurricanes have slightly decreased in energy and frequency over the last 30 years. Hurricanes have no lasting effect on ocean salinity either. Just more dishonest climate Alarmist carnival barking.

December 19, 2020 2:26 pm

Or ocean pollution or bacterial runoff or any one of a dozen other possibilities.

Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:28 pm

It’s for the first time I read about a) desalination, b) even sudden and drastic and c) caused by climate change.
How much finger they use to sue such stories out of…..

Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:35 pm

CO2 now causes ocean salinity to decrease. It’s very magical stuff, as warming oceans are saltier than colder oceans.

David A
Reply to  Doonman
December 19, 2020 8:56 pm

Doonman, really, great; their next study will be how extra saline oceans harm some random species.

Ron Long
December 19, 2020 2:47 pm

I hope our brothers and sisters the dolphins can hold out until Jan 20, because then Presumptive President Elect Joe Biden will fight the “existential threat of climate change as a central part of his administration”. Wait for it. Or don´t.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 19, 2020 3:55 pm

I’d like to see what our resident gullibles think will be different after 4 years of Biden, if he even lasts that long.

Climate “science” is beginning to more resemble a Monty Python sketch every day. I can’t remember – did the dead parrot have a skin disease?

Speaking of resident gullibles, I’m thinking of sending a get well soon card to griff as 2020 arctic sea ice surpassed 2012 for yesterday, by 0.006 km^2.

Reply to  philincalifornia
December 19, 2020 4:09 pm

Actually, if you want to yank griff’s chain, you can show your ability to be a Nobel Prizewinning climate screwball by practicing Mike’s Nature trick with this data, and probably at least the next month’s. Hide it in the spaghetti:

comment image

Reply to  philincalifornia
December 19, 2020 5:38 pm

philinC is showing day 351. day 352 is now available, and its a big jump 🙂

Reply to  fred250
December 19, 2020 7:08 pm

Did the 49ers beat the Cowboys tomorrow? I’ll get some money on that if they did.

Reply to  philincalifornia
December 19, 2020 8:44 pm
Reply to  fred250
December 20, 2020 5:07 am

Interesting. NSIDC still showing 11.930 km^2 for the 18th. Yes, I did screw up. Screen shot it on the 19th but the data was for the 18th. The NSIDC data for the 19th just came up, 5:00am CA time – 12.036. Not sure why the small discrepancy.

Antarctic sea ice holding steady as usual (mostly) above the 1981 – 2020 median.

Way better this than watching paint dry.

Reply to  philincalifornia
December 20, 2020 7:24 am

That would be 1981 – 2010 Median. Memo to self: don’t post before consuming two cups of coffee.

Reply to  philincalifornia
December 19, 2020 5:35 pm

According to NSIDC, the current day’s extent (day 352: 12,141 M km² ) is now above…

2006, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019

Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:48 pm

comment image

Salnity of the oceans, measured by ESA-Satellit SMOS

And, in 2003 scientists realised an increasing salinity near equator and a decreasing one near the poles.

A change in the freshwater balance of the Atlantic Ocean over the past four decades
Now I ask the authors of the dolphin paper, where do dolphins usually live ?

Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
December 19, 2020 2:55 pm

I’m willing to bet that this so called study never actually bothered to measure the salinity of sea water. They just assumed that the output of the climate models must be correct and that therefore coastal waters are getting less salty, except where they aren’t.

Tom in Florida
December 19, 2020 4:39 pm

I doubt that any the runoff of rain from Katrina was very clean fresh water. More likely, as the tidal surge retreated back into the Gulf, it carried every imaginable pollutant with it.

H. D. Hoese
December 19, 2020 4:42 pm

This would be funny, “The skin is the outer covering of the body.”   from “The deadly skin disease ” link, but I found this, never know what can find.

Hurricanes are very hard on dolphins. So is freshwater for salt water species, don’t swim up the Mississippi River very often.

Harris, S. A. 1986. Beached. Louisiana Conservationist. 38(2):18-22.
Hoese, H. D., M. Konikoff and C. P. Juneau. 1986. An exceptionally large porpoise stranding from hurricane Juan on the central Louisiana coast. Proceedings of the Louisiana Academy of Science. 49(Abs.):60. Hurricane Juan in October brought dozens [I seem to remember 87] of rare living clymene porpoises, normally far offshore off the wide continental shelf, to their deaths on the shell beach at Pt. Au Fer. Excavations they left on the shell ridge showed movements indicating that they died there, exhausted and unable to return to the water. These were so rare that they were hauled back to the Smithsonian. Amazing what they could find with a little homework, but after all they are “uncertain.”

Unfortunately the paper ended with “This case definition will facilitate a better understanding of a dermatopathy that will likely continue to emerge where coastal dolphin communities globally are exposed to sudden or unprecedented environmental change as a result of climatic change or perturbations and anthropogenic habitat degradation.” It had a fairly good review, however, including this– which showed that
Katrina brought them into the low salinity Lake Pontchartrain after Katrina, developed skin lesions. There were tea shirts after Juan–“I survived Hurricane Juan three times.” Human fault no doubt as storm went round and round which they do sometime. 1985 was an unusual year, check out Monthly Weather Review.

Reply to  H. D. Hoese
December 19, 2020 5:45 pm

Given Sausalito, I’m surprised the dolphins aren’t dead from SF street runoff!

Seriously, the salinity argument makes no sense; the rain that falls has only recently departed the sea, leaving it’s salts behind. Seems like returning to the sea would only restore its salinity. I realize there could be a local effect but climate change? Please…

December 19, 2020 5:29 pm

Quick, hide the thousands of articles where the science was settled that climate change would reduce rainfall. Apparently the science is now settled that climate change causes to much rain.

December 19, 2020 7:03 pm

 Due to the decreased water salinity brought upon by climate change ”

How THE HELL can the sea possibly become less saline?

More heat = more evaporation (= more salty) = more rain = more runoff = more dissolved salts = more salty ocean. No matter which way you turn it, it can’t happen. It’s a one way process.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mike
Reply to  Mike
December 20, 2020 6:48 am

It’s very easy for coastal waters to become less salty when the amount of fresh water in the rivers flowing into them increases. They never claimed that the entire oceans had become less salty, just coastal waters. Please try reading the entire article, not just the headline.

Reply to  MarkW
December 20, 2020 10:09 pm

”Please try reading the entire article, not just the headline.”

Please try reading what I am responding to and not just what you believe I am responding to before you shoot your mouth off.

 ”Due to the decreased water salinity BROUGHT ABOUT BY CLIMATE CHANGE”

Not a slight temporary and perfectly normal change in salinity on the coast when it rains a lot

Last edited 1 year ago by Mike
Clyde Spencer
December 19, 2020 7:40 pm

“The increasing severity and frequency of storm events like hurricanes and cyclones …”
Once again, the concern is predicated on an unsupported claim, and neither reviewers or publisher required citations for the assertion.

December 19, 2020 9:07 pm

Ha ha, yet the “average” ocean water temperature changes very little, over time.

December 20, 2020 1:06 am

So long and thanks for all the fish…

Peta of Newark
December 20, 2020 3:31 am

Hunger Is A Hard Driver

Climate believer
December 20, 2020 8:22 am

Flawless in their ability to connect any number of dots and always come to the same erroneous conclusion.

So “the climate”, not content with devastating Polar Bear numbers has now turned it’s Sauron’s eye upon the poor Dolphins.

On further investigation it appears to be linked to the management of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

One rainy year is not climate change.

December 21, 2020 9:12 pm

I recall contradictory forecasts of ultrahigh salinity being a hazard to sea life in previous years .

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