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Effects of age and sex on clinicopathologic reference ranges in a healthy managed Atlantic bottlenose dolphin population

Stephanie Venn-Watson DVM, MPH1, Eric D. Jensen DVM2, and Sam H. Ridgway DVM, PhD, DACZM3
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  • 1 United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, 53560 Hull St Code 2351, San Diego, CA 92152; and the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093.
  • | 2 United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, 53560 Hull St Code 2351, San Diego, CA 92152; and the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093.
  • | 3 United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, 53560 Hull St Code 2351, San Diego, CA 92152; and the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093.

Abstract

Objective—To establish reference ranges for hematologic and serum biochemical variables in healthy Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) of known age and sex that were housed in open ocean water.

Design—Original study.

Sample Population—1,113 blood samples collected from 52 healthy bottlenose dolphins housed in open ocean water during 1998 to 2005.

Procedures—Data obtained from analyses of blood samples that had been collected for routine purposes from dolphins were analyzed with respect to sex and age of the dolphins. Each dolphin was categorized into 1 of 4 groups: 1 to 5 years (calf), > 5 to 10 years (juvenile), > 10 to 30 years (adult), or > 30 years (geriatric). Retrospective ANCOVA was performed for 30 hematologic and serum biochemical variables, with age and sex as cofactors.

Results—Among healthy bottlenose dolphins, age and sex significantly affected 23 of 30 (76.7%) and 11 of 30 (36.7%) hematologic and serum biochemical variables, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that age and sex significantly affected clinicopathologic reference ranges in our healthy bottlenose dolphin population. When assessing clinicopathologic variables in bottlenose dolphins, age and sex should be taken into consideration. The data obtained suggested reference ranges for healthy man-aged bottlenose dolphin populations housed in open ocean water by age and sex.

Abstract

Objective—To establish reference ranges for hematologic and serum biochemical variables in healthy Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) of known age and sex that were housed in open ocean water.

Design—Original study.

Sample Population—1,113 blood samples collected from 52 healthy bottlenose dolphins housed in open ocean water during 1998 to 2005.

Procedures—Data obtained from analyses of blood samples that had been collected for routine purposes from dolphins were analyzed with respect to sex and age of the dolphins. Each dolphin was categorized into 1 of 4 groups: 1 to 5 years (calf), > 5 to 10 years (juvenile), > 10 to 30 years (adult), or > 30 years (geriatric). Retrospective ANCOVA was performed for 30 hematologic and serum biochemical variables, with age and sex as cofactors.

Results—Among healthy bottlenose dolphins, age and sex significantly affected 23 of 30 (76.7%) and 11 of 30 (36.7%) hematologic and serum biochemical variables, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that age and sex significantly affected clinicopathologic reference ranges in our healthy bottlenose dolphin population. When assessing clinicopathologic variables in bottlenose dolphins, age and sex should be taken into consideration. The data obtained suggested reference ranges for healthy man-aged bottlenose dolphin populations housed in open ocean water by age and sex.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Dr. Cynthia R. Smith, Dr. William Van Bonn, Carrie Lomax, and Valerie Hajduk for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Venn-Watson.