Manatee Road, FL, United States
Manatee Road, FL, United States

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Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Rowles T.K.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | And 7 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2017

Common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus were present in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, USA, before, during, and after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Health assessments conducted on dolphins in Barataria Bay in 2011, 2013, and 2014, after the capping of the well, found disease conditions consistent with petroleum hydrocarbon exposure and toxicity. Satellite-linked transmitters were affixed to dolphins during these health assessments for assessing the potential for continued exposure to petroleum-associated products, estimating survival rates, and planning potential restoration. In total, 44 tags were deployed, transmitting for 48 to 260 d. The dolphins exhibited multi-year site fidelity to small home ranges. Most tagged dolphin locations were inside the bay. On average, the dolphins that entered the Gulf coastal waters remained within 1.75 km of shore. No dolphins were documented more than 14 km beyond their 95% utilization distribution (UD) overall home ranges. Individual variation in the use of specific regions and habitats of Barataria Bay suggests the occurrence of community structure. All but 3 of the dolphins (93%) were tracked or observed during more than 1 yr in Barataria Bay, with 20 (45%) recorded each year from 2010 to 2014. All but 6 dolphins (86%) were tracked during multiple seasons. Home range sizes were comparable to those reported for bottlenose dolphins elsewhere. These findings suggest the occurrence of long-term, year-round residency. Residency patterns suggest potential for continued exposure to petroleum-associated products that may have remained in Barataria Bay after the spill. © Outside the USA the US Government 2017.


Smith C.R.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Rowles T.K.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Hart L.B.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Hart L.B.,College of Charleston | And 14 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2017

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster resulted in large-scale oil contamination of the northern Gulf of Mexico. As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment designed to investigate the potential impacts of the DWH oil spill, comprehensive health assessments were conducted on bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus living in oiled bays (Barataria Bay [BB], Louisiana, and Mississippi Sound [MS], Mississippi/Alabama) and a reference bay with no evidence of DWH oil contamination (Sarasota Bay [SB], Florida). As previously reported, multiple health issues were detected in BB dolphins during 2011. In the present study, follow-on capturerelease health assessments of BB dolphins were performed (2013, 2014) and indicated an overall improvement in population health, but demonstrated that pulmonary abnormalities and impaired stress response persisted for at least 4 yr after the DWH disaster. Specifically, moderate to severe lung disease remained elevated, and BB dolphins continued to release low levels of cortisol in the face of capture stress. The proportion of guarded or worse prognoses in BB improved over time, but 4 yr post-spill, they were still above the proportion seen in SB. Health assessments performed in MS in 2013 showed similar findings to BB, characterized by an elevated prevalence of low serum cortisol and moderate to severe lung disease. Prognosis scores for dolphins examined in MS in 2013 were similar to BB in 2013. Data from these follow-on studies confirmed that dolphins living in areas affected by the DWH spill were more likely to be ill; however, some improvement in population health has occurred over time. © Outside the USA the US Government 2017.


Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Zolman E.S.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Balmer B.C.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | And 12 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), persistent chemicals widely used for industrial purposes, have been banned in most parts of the world for decades. Owing to their bioaccumulative nature, PCBs are still found in high concentrations in marine mammals, particularly those that occupy upper trophic positions. While PCB-related health effects have been well-documented in some mammals, studies among dolphins and whales are limited. We conducted health evaluations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) near a site on the Georgia, United States coast heavily contaminated by Aroclor 1268, an uncommon PCB mixture primarily comprised of octa- through deca-chlorobiphenyl congeners. A high proportion (26%) of sampled dolphins suffered anaemia, a finding previously reported from primate laboratory studies using high doses of a more common PCB mixture, Aroclor 1254. In addition, the dolphins showed reduced thyroid hormone levels and total thyroxine, free thyroxine and triiodothyronine negatively correlated with PCB concentration measured in blubber (p 1/4 0.039, 0.001, 0.009, respectively). Similarly, T-lymphocyte proliferation and indices of innate immunity decreased with blubber PCB concentration, suggesting an increased susceptibility to infectious disease. Other persistent contaminants such as DDTwhich could potentially confound results were similar in the Georgia dolphins when compared with previously sampled reference sites, and therefore probably did not contribute to the observed correlations. Our results clearly demonstrate that dolphins are vulnerable to PCB-related toxic effects, at least partially mediated through the endocrine system. The severity of the effects suggests that the PCB mixture to which the Georgia dolphins were exposed has substantial toxic potential and further studies are warranted to elucidate mechanisms and potential impacts on other top-level predators, including humans, who regularly consume fish from the same marine waters. © 2012 The Royal Society.


PubMed | Western Ecosystems Technology Inc., Industrial Economics Inc., Bayside Hospital for Animals, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2015

Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabit bays, sounds and estuaries across the Gulf of Mexico. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, studies were initiated to assess potential effects on these ecologically important apex predators. A previous study reported disease conditions, including lung disease and impaired stress response, for 32 dolphins that were temporarily captured and given health assessments in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, USA. Ten of the sampled dolphins were determined to be pregnant, with expected due dates the following spring or summer. Here, we report findings after 47 months of follow-up monitoring of those sampled dolphins. Only 20% (95% CI: 2.50-55.6%) of the pregnant dolphins produced viable calves, as compared with a previously reported pregnancy success rate of 83% in a reference population. Fifty-seven per cent of pregnant females that did not successfully produce a calf had been previously diagnosed with moderate-severe lung disease. In addition, the estimated annual survival rate of the sampled cohort was low (86.8%, 95% CI: 80.0-92.7%) as compared with survival rates of 95.1% and 96.2% from two other previously studied bottlenose dolphin populations. Our findings confirm low reproductive success and high mortality in dolphins from a heavily oiled estuary when compared with other populations. Follow-up studies are needed to better understand the potential recovery of dolphins in Barataria Bay and, by extension, other Gulf coastal regions impacted by the spill.


Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Twiner M.J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | De Guise S.,University of Connecticut | Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | And 11 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2010

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting coastal waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico have been impacted by recurrent unusual mortality events over the past few decades. Several of these mortality events along the Florida panhandle have been tentatively attributed to poisoning from brevetoxin produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. While dolphins in other regions of the Florida coast are often exposed to K. brevis blooms, large-scale dolphin mortality events are relatively rare and the frequency and magnitude of die-offs along the Panhandle raise concern for the apparent vulnerability of dolphins in this region. We report results from dolphin health assessments conducted near St. Joseph Bay, Florida, an area impacted by 3 unusual die-offs within a 7-year time span. An eosinophilia syndrome, manifested as an elevated blood eosinophil count without obvious cause, was observed in 23% of sampled dolphins. Elevated eosinophil counts were associated with decreased T-lymphocyte proliferation and increased neutrophil phagocytosis. In addition, indication of chronic low-level exposure to another algal toxin, domoic acid produced by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia spp., was determined. Previous studies of other marine mammal populations exposed recurrently to Pseudo-nitzschia blooms have suggested a possible link between the eosinophilia and domoic acid exposure. While the chronic eosinophilia syndrome could over the long-term produce organ damage and alter immunological status and thereby increase vulnerability to other challenges, the significance of the high prevalence of the syndrome to the observed mortality events in the St. Joseph Bay area is unclear. Nonetheless, the unusual immunological findings and concurrent evidence of domoic acid exposure in this sentinel marine species suggest a need for further investigation to elucidate potential links between chronic, low-level exposure to algal toxins and immune health. © 2010.


Staggs L.,Gulf | St. Leger J.,Sea World San Diego | Bossart G.,Florida Atlantic University | Townsend Jr. F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

A necropsy was performed on a captive-born, 10-yr-old male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) after it died acutely. Gross necropsy findings revealed hemorrhage within the right cerebrum, right cerebellum, and right eye. Histopathologic findings revealed a moderate multifocal acute necrotizing meningoencephalitis with intralesional fungal hyphae. Several pieces of cerebrum and cerebellum and cerebrospinal fluid were sent to the Fungus Testing Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas (USA). The culture yielded Fusarium oxysporum, which was confirmed by internal transcribed spacer and D1-D2 sequencing. Fusarium oxysporum infection has been reported in marine mammals. No cases of noncutaneous F. oxysporum infection in a cetacean that was not on long-term antimicrobials have been reported in the literature. © 2010 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Fauquier D.A.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Gulland F.M.D.,The Marine Mammal Center | Townsend F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | Digiovanni R.A.,The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2013

Until recently, few data were available for evaluating postintervention survival of free-ranging cetaceans receiving aid from humans through: rescue from stranding, with rehabilitation and release; rescue, rehabilitation and release of debilitated or entangled individuals that had not beached; rescue of entangled animals with immediate release; and rescue, transport, and release of out-of-habitat animals. Advances in medical diagnosis, husbandry and therapy have improved survival of rehabilitation cases, and advances in radio-telemetry have improved postrelease monitoring. In total, 69 cases (1986-2010) were evaluated, involving 10 species of odontocete cetaceans with release data. Findings suggested a success criterion of surviving at least six weeks postrelease is useful in evaluating intervention strategies. No species had better success than others. Stranded beached cetaceans were less successful than free-swimming rescued animals. Rehabilitated animals were less successful than those released without rehabilitation. Mass stranded dolphins fared better than single stranded animals. Old age, diminished hearing ability, and lack of maternal care were factors in several unsuccessful cases. Success is not clearly related to rehabilitation duration. Retaining healthy individuals from mass strandings until all animals are ready for release may reduce success for some. Transport durations for unsuccessful cases were greater than for successful cases. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.


Venn-Watson S.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Smith C.R.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Johnson S.,U.S. Navy | Daniels R.,National Marine Mammal Foundation | Townsend F.,Bayside Hospital for Animals
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2010

Few cases of nephrolithiasis (renal calculi) have been reported in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. A case-control study was conducted to compare ultrasonographic images and clinicopathologic serum and urine values among 14 dolphins with nephrolithiasis (mild cases: 1 to 19 nephroliths, n = 8; advanced cases: ≥20 nephroliths, n = 6) to 6 controls over an 18 mo period. Archived nephroliths collected postmortem from 7 additional bottlenose dolphins were characterized using quantitative analysis. All advanced cases had bilateral nephroliths, and 67% had visible collecting ducts. During the study, 2 of the advanced cases developed hydronephrosis, and 1 of these cases had ureteral obstruction due to a nephrolith. Compared to controls, cases (mild and advanced) were significantly more likely to have anemia (hematocrit [HCT] < 38%), high blood urea nitrogen (>59 mg dl-1), high creatinine (>1.9 mg dl-1), and low estimated glomerular filtration rate (<150 ml min-1 2.78 m-2). Advanced-case urine samples were more likely to have erythrocytes, occult blood, and lower pH compared to mild cases and controls. Mean serum uric acid among all study groups was low (0.15 to 0.27 mg dl-1). Urinary uric acid concentrations were highest among mild cases (272 mg g-1 creatinine), but advanced cases had levels lower than that of controls (40 and 127 mg g-1 creatinine, respectively). All nephroliths were characterized as 100% ammonium acid urate. We conclude that nephrolithiasis is clinically relevant in dolphins and can decrease renal function and HCT. The presence of nephrolithiasis, presumably ammonium acid urate nephrolithiasis, in the face of low serum uric and relatively low urinary uric acid in advanced cases may indicate a metabolic syndrome similar to that reported in humans. © Inter-Research 2010.


Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laborator | Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laborator | Howle L.E.,BelleQuant Engineering PLLC | Howle L.E.,Duke University | And 8 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2014

Electronic tags have proven to be valuable tools in assessing small cetacean movement and behavior. However, problems associated with tag size and attachment have limited duration and damaged dorsal fins. These outcomes have motivated researchers to develop a new satellite-linked tag design that reduces detrimental effects to tagged animals, while increasing transmission durations. The goals of this study were to review previous studies that deployed single-pin transmitters and determine factors that influence transmission duration. Then, test these factors utilizing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to identify an optimal single-pin satellite-linked tag design, and evaluate this prototype through field studies. A review of four projects, which deployed 77 single-pin radio tags, determined that tags attached along the lower third of the dorsal fin and approximately 33 mm from the trailing edge resulted in longer transmission durations and reduced negative impacts to the dorsal fin. Based upon these results and CFD modeling, prototype, single-pin satellite-linked tags (n = 25) transmitted for 163 ± 22 d (mean ± 95% CI) which greatly exceeded transmissions for previous small cetacean telemetry studies. These results suggest that the newly developed single-pin satellite-linked tag design strikes a balance between reducing impacts to the individual while maximizing transmissions. © 2013 Society for Marine Mammalogy.


Harms C.A.,North Carolina State University | Jensen E.D.,Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific | Townsend F.I.,Bayside Hospital for Animals | Hansen L.J.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2013

Electrocardiography (ECG) was performed on captured free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) during a health assessment exercise and compared with that of a Navy collection of dolphins habituated to handling out of water in order to assess possible cardiovascular impacts of capture and handling. Six-lead recordings (I, II, III, aVr, aVl, and aVf) in the frontal plane and direct thorax leads were collected from both groups, with a modified base-apex lead additionally employed with the Navy collection dolphins. Measured and calculated parameters included amplitudes of P, R, S, and T waves and total QRS complex; T:S and T:QRS ratios; heart rate; durations of P wave; QRS complex, PR, QT, and RR intervals; maximum minus minimum RR interval; ST segment elevation-depression; and mean electrical axis (MEA). Physiologically minor but statistically significant differences were detected in S wave amplitude, PR interval, QRS duration, and MEA. The PR interval, QRS duration, and S wave amplitude were slightly greater and the MEA oriented slightly rightward in wild postcapture dolphins compared to Navy collection dolphins. There were no differences in heart rate or maximum minus minimum RR interval, which serves as a proxy for the expected sinus arrhythmia of dolphins. The base-apex lead resulted in greater QRS amplitude than lead II, as expected for the category B ventricular activation of dolphins. The left-side direct thorax lead was more consistent than that of the right side. Clinically, ECG was a useful adjunct to auscultation and thoracic palpation for monitoring heart rate and rhythm and generated a record for archiving. Safe capture and handling protocols in place, under which dolphins are immediately returned to the water at progressive signs of distress, may make cardiovascular decompensation less likely to be detected by ECG. It appears that the dolphin cardiovascular system compensates suitably well to capture, as measured by ECG under the conditions of this study. Copyright 2013 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

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