Objective—To develop robust reference intervals for hematologic and serum biochemical variables by use of data derived from free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and examine potential variation in distributions of clinicopathologic values related to sampling sites' geographic locations.
Animals—255 free-ranging bottlenose dolphins.
Procedures—Data from samples collected during multiple bottlenose dolphin capture-release projects conducted at 4 southeastern US coastal locations in 2000 through 2006 were combined to determine reference intervals for 52 clinicopathologic variables. A nonparametric bootstrap approach was applied to estimate 95th percentiles and associated 90% confidence intervals; the need for partitioning by length and sex classes was determined by testing for differences in estimated thresholds with a bootstrap method. When appropriate, quantile regression was used to determine continuous functions for 95th percentiles dependent on length. The proportion of out-of-range samples for all clinicopathologic measurements was examined for each geographic site, and multivariate ANOVA was applied to further explore variation in leukocyte subgroups.
Results—A need for partitioning by length and sex classes was indicated for many clinicopathologic variables. For each geographic site, few significant deviations from expected number of out-of-range samples were detected. Although mean leukocyte counts did not vary among sites, differences in the mean counts for leukocyte subgroups were identified.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Although differences in the centrality of distributions for some variables were detected, the 95th percentiles estimated from the pooled data were robust and applicable across geographic sites. The derived reference intervals provide critical information for conducting bottlenose dolphin population health studies.
Objective—To determine the effect of natural exposure to domoic acid (DA) on eosinophil counts and adrenal gland function in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus).
Design—Cross-sectional prospective study.
Animals—39 California sea lions.
Procedures—Adult female sea lions admitted to a rehabilitation hospital during 2009 were classified into 1 of 3 groups (acute DA toxicosis, chronic DA toxicosis, or no DA exposure) on the basis of clinical signs, DA concentration in urine or feces, and hippocampal morphology. Endoparasite burden, eosinophil count, and serum cortisol and plasma ACTH concentrations were determined for each sea lion. For a subset of 8 sea lions, fecal glucocorticoid concentration after IM administration of cosyntropin was determined.
Results—Sea lions exposed to DA (acute DA toxicosis, n = 11; chronic DA toxicosis, 19) had higher eosinophil counts and lower serum cortisol concentrations, compared with values for sea lions with no DA exposure (9). Eosinophil count was not associated with endoparasite burden. Serum cortisol concentration was associated with plasma ACTH concentrations in sea lions from the no DA exposure group but not in sea lions in the acute or chronic DA toxicosis groups. Following cosyntropin injection, fecal glucocorticoid concentrations increased in all sea lions evaluated except 1.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In adult sea lions, eosinophilia may be a cost-effective biomarker for DA exposure and may reflect alterations in hypothalamic, pituitary gland, or adrenal gland function. Domoic acid exposure may have subtle health effects on marine animals in addition to induction of neurologic signs.