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Monday, March 8, 2010 - 4:17am

Toxins Threaten Georgia Dolphins

Georgia dolphins are at risk because of high P.C.B. levels.

Scientists say they're getting the toxins from eating the same fish people eat.

P.C.B.'s are chemical compounds once used by industry but are now banned.

Federal biologists went looking for them in dolphins up and down the East Coast.

What they found was a big blip in Georgia.

The study's pricipal biologist, Lori Schwake, called the findings "startling."

"Every area of the U.S. coast, we tend to find some levels of P.C.B.'s in higher-level predators, such as dolphins and other marine mammal populations," Schwake says. "But the animals that we sampled off the Georgia coast just had incredibly high levels, some of the highest that have ever been documented in marine wildlife."

Georgia dolphins have such high levels of P.C.B.'s that a single virus could cause a mass die-off.

Biologists put the source as a diet rich in local fish.

The type of P.C.B.'s found is consistent with toxins once used by industry in Brunswick.