Health and Physiology

A visual body condition index for bottlenose dolphins

Apr 16, 2014 No Comments

Bottlenose dolphin health assessments are very useful for investigating the potential impacts of natural and anthropogenic factors on dolphin populations, but they are expensive and logistically complex. In response to the need to develop a simple and cost-effective means of initially assessing the condition of individuals within a population, I conducted my master’s research to [...]

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Bottlenose dolphin body mass index

Apr 12, 2014 2 Comments

Body mass index (BMI) is a metric that relates an individual’s height to their weight. In humans, BMI is often used as an indicator of fitness, fatness, and risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke, based on comparisons to reference intervals.  Reference intervals specify what is expected among individuals in a healthy population given a [...]

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2013 Deepwater Horizon oil spill follow-up: Comparative dolphin health assessments in Sarasota Bay, Barataria Bay, and Mississippi Sound

Feb 14, 2014 No Comments

NOAA-led bottlenose dolphin health assessments were performed in 2011 in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, as part of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment conducted by NOAA and other natural resource Trustees in cooperation with BP, to evaluate the potential impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Barataria Bay was impacted during the spill.  To [...]

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Study shows Gulf dolphins in poor health following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Dec 19, 2013 No Comments

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program played a major role in ground-breaking dolphin health and oil spill research published on 18 December 2013 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology. The health of dolphins in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, an area that received heavy and prolonged oiling from the Deepwater Horizon spill, is compared to [...]

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Investigating patterns of bottlenose dolphin growth

Feb 16, 2013 No Comments

The bottlenose dolphin is a long-lived, apex predator that is considered a sentinel of coastal ecosystem health.  The goal of my study is to describe patterns of growth of bottlenose dolphins utilizing two complimentary methods, ontogenetic allometry and body composition. Ontogenetic allometry describes the rate of growth of a given body component, whereas the body [...]

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Tests of suction cup temporary tag attachments

Feb 14, 2013 No Comments

Suction cups are a central part of non-invasive tagging of marine mammals. For short term attachment of technology such as the WHOI Dtag they are the attachment method of choice. They do not penetrate the skin and can be easily dislodged by programming the device to lose suction in the cups at the desired time. [...]

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Dolphin diving and microparticles

Feb 12, 2013 No Comments

Whenever a mammal submerges below the surface of the water, there is an increasing pressure as the water gets deeper. The liquid and solid components of a mammal’s body are incompressible, but the gas filled portions, such as the lungs, are compressible. As the pressure increases, the gas dissolves more readily in the blood and [...]

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Studies of stress hormones in wild bottlenose dolphins

Feb 10, 2013 No Comments

Throughout their lifetime, free-ranging bottlenose dolphins are exposed to a variety of natural (e.g., changes in water temperature and prey availability) and anthropogenic (e.g., boat traffic, pollution) stressors.  This exposure results in a physiological response that can be identified by hormone concentrations measured in their blood and blubber tissues (e.g., cortisol, aldosterone, T3, T4,  Free [...]

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Bottlenose dolphin visual health index: 2012 update

Feb 07, 2013 No Comments

The goal of the bottlenose dolphin visual health index project is to create a method that allows researchers to determine the condition of individual dolphins by examining external features visible in photographs taken remotely, as during photo-identification projects. If photos are taken of enough individuals to form a representative sample of a population, the collective [...]

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