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  • Author or Editor: Roberto Sanchez x
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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.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To describe results of analysis of free-catch urine samples collected from Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) under human care in the Caribbean.


32 Antillean manatees in 5 Caribbean oceanaria and rescue centers.


Urine samples were obtained by opportunistic free catch during physical examination or through the use of operant conditioning procedures. Urinalyses consisted of macro- and microscopic evaluations, biochemical analyses with test strips, and refractometry. Results were compared for manatees grouped on the basis of age, sex, and habitat.


Urine samples were typically clear, straw colored, and alkaline (mean pH, 8.0); had a urinoid odor and low specific gravity (mean, 1.010); and had results on qualitative test strips that were consistently negative for the presence of glucose, bilirubin, ketones, proteins, nitrites, RBCs, and WBCs. Microscopically, the mean ± SD number of RBCs and WBCs/hpf was 0.5 ± 0.3 RBCs/hpf and 1.1 ± 1.5 WBCs/hpf. The presence of some epithelial cells and crystals was typical. Spermatozoa were found in urine from 1 of 15 sexually mature males, and parasite larvae and eggs were found in urine from 2 manatees.


Results of the present study yielded the first compilation of baseline urinalysis values in healthy Antillean manatees under human care, which, when combined with physical examination and other diagnostic procedures, can help in monitoring the health of these animals. We encourage the use of free-catch urine collection methods, as used in the present study, for routine urinalyses of manatees under human care in zoos, aquaria, or rescue centers.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association