Conservation Medicine

Understanding the man-made and environmental factors that cause illness and mortality, and identify ways to support population recovery

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Changes to the environment from oil spills to altered habitats can impact the health of marine mammals. Our Conservation Medicine team operates regionally, nationally, and internationally to investigate the man-made and natural stressors that drive disease and mortality in wild marine mammal populations. Our goal is to understand the long-term and cumulative impacts of increasing interactions between humans and marine mammals, chemical spills in marine habitats, coastal development, and a changing environment. By combining our expertise in veterinary medicine with our expertise in field biology and wildlife epidemiology, we are able to address some of the most pressing issues facing at-risk marine mammal populations.
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Much of our research has focused in the Gulf of Mexico to understand the health and recovery of dolphin and whale populations following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill.

This collaborative research began as part of the DWH Natural Resource Damage Assessment and has continued with support from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Dr. Cynthia Smith is leading a project to understand the causes of reproductive failure in dolphins from areas of the Gulf coast that were heavily impacted by the DWH spill. Dr. Lori Schwacke leads the Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessment (CARMMHA) — a collaborative team involving 10 partner organizations from across the globe.

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Meet Our Conservation Medicine Team

From coast to coast and internationally, our Conservation Medicine team is helping to understand and improve wild marine mammal health.