New study shows Alzheimer’s-like brain disease in dead Florida dolphins
There is new information about possible harmful effects of long term exposure to toxic blue-green algae.
New research out of the University of Miami shows high levels of a neurotoxin linked to brain diseases like ALS and
Alzheimer’s disease in deceased dolphins that have been found off the coast of Florida.
The study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, is the first to show detectable levels of the toxin, commonly called BMAA, in dolphin brains that also displayed degenerative damage similar to Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s in humans.
Dr. David Davis at UM said the dolphins’ brains showed degenerative damage similar to those in a patients with dementia.
For this study, researchers looked at brains from 14 dead dolphins, including seven Florida bottlenose dolphins that beached themselves in 2005 along the Atlantic, the Indian River Lagoon, the Banana River and Gulf of Mexico where algae blooms frequently occur. They also looked at seven common dolphins that were found dead in Cape Cod Bay off Massachusetts in 2012.
All but one dolphin, which died from a boat strike, had BMAA in their brains as well as signs of degenerative disease. Notably, the Florida dolphins had three times the amount of toxins.
Researchers have begun a second study using dolphins that died during last year’s prolonged algae blooms. Nearly 150 were found in Gulf waters, which prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to launch an investigation. So far nothing suggests the toxins caused the beachings, which can be a complex event. They also plan to examine more parts of the dolphins’ brains.