The research is being conducted as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process required under the Oil Spill Act of 1990, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.
The law requires companies such as BP found responsible for spills to fund projects that would mitigate harmful effects caused by oil or compensate the public for the loss of resources, the newspaper said.
Researchers are trying to determine whether oil that washed into waters around Grand Isle from the April 2010 spill may have caused the strandings of 85 premature, stillborn or neonatal bottlenose dolphins between January and June of this year, said Teri Rowles, director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program.
Determining a link will be difficult since a significant percentage of dolphin pregnancies normally end in stillbirth or miscarriage, researchers said.
Thirty dolphins have been tested near Grand Isle since Aug. 3.