Objective—To determine effects of duration of capture and sample-handling procedures on blood analytes in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins.
Animals—154 free-ranging bottlenose dolphins of various ages and both sexes.
Procedures—Blood samples were drawn from each dolphin within 10 minutes of capture and before release and analyzed by use of a portable analyzer with a single-use 8-analyte disposable cartridge. Analyte values were compared according to duration between sample acquisition and analysis (time to run [TTR]) and duration between net encirclement and sample acquisition (time to bleed [TTB]).
Results—Neither TTB nor TTR significantly affected sodium or chloride concentration. Potassium concentration was not significantly affected by TTR, whereas the effect of TTB was significant. Glucose, total CO2, HCO3, Hct, and base excess of extracellular fluid values were significantly affected by TTR. Increased TTB resulted in significantly increased total CO2, HCO3, and base excess when TTR was kept within 10 minutes.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The effect of TTB on certain acid-base and electrolyte values was readily measured in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins, and such values may provide a reference range for those variables.
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 prevalence of lobomycosis, a mycotic infection of dolphins and humans caused by a yeastlike organism (Lacazia loboi), among dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida.
Animals—146 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Procedure—Comprehensive health assessments of bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon of Florida (n = 75) and in estuarine waters near Charleston, SC (71), were conducted during 2003 and 2004. Bottlenose dolphins were captured, examined, and released. Skin lesions were photographed and then biopsied. Tissue sections were stained with H&E and Gomori methenamine silver stains for identification of L loboi.
Results—9 of 30 (30%) dolphins captured in the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon had lobomycosis, whereas none of the 45 dolphins captured in the northern portion of the lagoon or of the 71 dolphins captured near Charleston, SC, did. Affected dolphins had low serum alkaline phosphatase activities and high acute-phase protein concentrations.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that lobomycosis may be occurring in epidemic proportions among dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon. Localization of the disease to the southern portion of the lagoon, an area characterized by freshwater intrusion and lower salinity, suggests that exposure to environmental stressors may be contributing to the high prevalence of the disease, but specific factors are unknown. Because only dolphins and humans are naturally susceptible to infection, dolphins may represent a sentinel species for an emerging infectious disease.
Objective—To conduct health assessments and compare outcomes in 2 populations of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Design—Repeated cross-sectional study.
Animals—171 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Procedures—During June and August of 2003 through 2005, 89 dolphins from the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida, and 82 dolphins from estuarine waters near Charleston, SC, were evaluated. A panel of 5 marine mammal veterinarians classified dolphins as clinically normal, possibly diseased, or definitely diseased on the basis of results of physical and ultrasonographic examinations, hematologic and serum biochemical analyses, and cytologic and microbiologic evaluations of gastric contents and swab specimens.
Results—Prevalence of dolphins classified as definitely diseased did not differ significantly between the IRL (32%) and Charleston (20%) sites. Proportions of dolphins classified as possibly diseased also did not differ. Lobomycosis was diagnosed in 9 dolphins from the IRL but in none of the dolphins from Charleston. Proportions of dolphins with orogenital papillomas did not differ significantly between the IRL (12%) and Charleston (7%) sites. From 2003 through 2005, the proportion classified as definitely diseased tripled among dolphins from the Charleston site but did not increase significantly among dolphins from the IRL. Dolphins from the Charleston site were more likely to have leukocytosis, lymphocytosis, and low serum concentrations of total protein and total J-globulins than were dolphins from the IRL.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—High prevalences of diseased dolphins were identified at both sites; however, the host or environmental factors that contributed to the various abnormalities detected are unknown.