Barataria Bay Dolphins Show Symptoms 'Consistent With Oil Exposure'

03/23/2012 02:41 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2012

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Scientists say 32 dolphins taken from Louisiana's Barataria Bay were in overall poor health, though they say their studies don't yet definitely tie the illnesses to the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Lori Schwacke of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday that the dolphins — caught in August 2011 — were underweight, anemic and showed signs of liver and lung disease. Another common problem was a low level of stress-fighting hormones. Thirty-one of the 32 are still alive.

Schwacke said the hormone problem cannot be surely tied to the oil spill but is "consistent with oil exposure to other mammals."

Scientists have been investigating an unusually large number of dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico since February 2010 — two months before the BP oil spill began.