Years of industrial activity, poisoning the ocean with their wastes, have brought many problems to the indigenous inhabitants of the aquatic expanses. So, after the accident at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in 2011, the number of successful pregnancies in bottlenose dolphins (dolphin of the species Tursiops truncatus) dropped sharply, mainly due to reproductive disorders. Due to oil poisoning, the reproductive ability of animals has been noticeably undermined.
In an effort to save the rare population, the researchers resorted to ultrasound scans of pregnant female bottlenose dolphins. The result of painstaking work has become a new technique that allows you to detect abnormalities and other complications of fetal development at all stages of pregnancy.
Why is this so important? Since the disaster, females living in the spill zone have given birth to live dolphins in only 19% of pregnancies - that is, there were 4 corpses for every child born. But if you track the potential disruption of fetal development at an early stage, then marine biologists will have a chance to save both the woman in labor and her future child. In addition, the ultrasound examination presented scientists with a number of very interesting information about the pregnancy of bottlenose dolphins. So, for example, it was previously believed that if the fetus does not move in the womb, this indicates an almost guaranteed death. However, it turned out that this is quite common behavior for fetuses, and if their heart continues to beat, then there is no reason to worry.