2022-9-30 0:0:0
Applying Omics Technologies to Support Cetacean Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico
Climate Effects CE
Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are targets of conservation efforts. In the Gulf of Mexico, the endangered Bryde’s whale population has approximately 33 individuals, and Bottlenose dolphins were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Understanding the ecology and feeding behavior of Bryde’s whales and of oil spill impacts on dolphins are priorities of NOAA Fisheries. Researchers are applying their expertise in ’omics and using cutting-edge DNA analysis facilities and bioinformatics capacity to support the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) cetacean conservation research. Using samples collected by SEFSC scientists of both fish and eDNA from deep waters where Bryde’s whales had just been observed, researchers will identify potential prey species. Using samples collected by SEFSC scientists of skin microbiome from dolphins in Barataria Bay and from those near the spill site before and shortly after the spill as well as several years later, they will identify a baseline skin microbiome and possible effects on it from the oil spill. Researchers will perform DNA metabarcoding analyses and analyze the DNA sequence results to find the taxonomic compositions of the samples.