Health and Physiology

Welcoming a new vessel to the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program fleet: R/V Challenger

Dec 12, 2014 No comments

Bottlenose dolphin health assessments are a valuable tool to evaluate individual dolphin health and provide insight into stressors that are impacting the overall ecosystem.  Blood sampling for health evaluation began in 1987 to develop medical histories for the known resident dolphins and provide baseline data for comparison to other free-ranging and managed dolphin populations. Over [...]

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Ultrasound evaluation for pregnancy determination and fetal evaluation in Sarasota Bay dolphins

May 15, 2014 No Comments

Ultrasound is a rapid and noninvasive tool for examining the female reproductive tract in bottlenose dolphins. Techniques have been established to evaluate the ovaries, uterine body, and uterine horns of the female dolphin with ultrasound. In the case of pregnancy, a fetal assessment is also performed to determine the approximate gestational age and health of [...]

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Comparing dietary consumption of iron in wild dolphins vs. those in managed collections

May 12, 2014 No Comments

Iron storage disease has been reported in a large variety of managed collections of mammal species. Differences in the amount and bioavailability of iron between natural forages and provisioned diets are most often cited when discussing possible etiologies for iron storage disease among affected species. Our research goals were to compare the iron levels in [...]

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Sarasota Bay dolphins provide clues to prevent insulin resistance in dolphins and humans

May 09, 2014 No Comments

Dolphins can naturally switch diabetes-like states on and off. In some cases, however, dolphins can develop diseases similar to people with insulin resistance. In collaboration with the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) and the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, a three-year study supported by the Office of Naval Research aims to identify dolphin groups that may [...]

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Dolphin and stingray interactions

May 06, 2014 No Comments

Citizens and tourists of the Sarasota Bay area are well-versed in the “stingray shuffle” to avoid stepping on and being stung by the typically docile, bottom-dwellers found in coastal waters. But how do stingrays affect bottlenose dolphins? The Stranding Investigations Program (SIP) at Mote Marine Laboratory provides 24-hour response to stranded marine mammals that are [...]

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Microparticles as a biomarker of decompression sickness

May 03, 2014 No Comments

Recent studies of stranded marine mammals indicate that exposure to underwater military sonar may induce symptoms consistent with decompression sickness (DCS). Without a measurable indicator or biomarker, DCS has been difficult to accurately diagnose in marine mammals. As part of the dolphin health assessment project, our team of researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Texas [...]

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Evaluating stress hormones in bottlenose dolphins

Apr 28, 2014 No Comments

As inhabitants of a constantly changing coastal environment, estuarine bottlenose dolphins are exposed to a variety of internal and external stressors. Their stress response is modulated by various hormones, several of which are secreted from the adrenal and thyroid glands. The objective of this study was to use data from long-term capture-release projects conducted in [...]

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Genetic susceptibility to red tides

Apr 24, 2014 No Comments

Recent advances in molecular technologies have made it possible to study genetic variation across whole genomes of bottlenose dolphins and other species in the natural environment. These powerful techniques greatly benefit studies of genetic adaptation, where researchers search for genes linked to higher fitness and health.  In Sarasota Bay, these techniques have greatly enhanced my [...]

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Bottlenose dolphins: A biosensor to detect ocean health risks

Apr 20, 2014 No Comments

The environmental quality of marine ecosystems is often assessed by the variety of species present and their relative abundance, the levels of pollutants, and the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms. As top level predators, bottlenose dolphins are particularly sensitive to chemical and biological toxins that accumulate and biomagnify in the marine food chain. [...]

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