Sun City Center, FL, United States
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Colitz C.M.H.,Ohio State University | Saville W.J.A.,Ohio State University | Renner M.S.,Dolphin Research Center | McBain J.E.,Busch Entertainment Corporation | And 13 more authors.
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association | Year: 2010

Objective To determine risk factors for lens luxation and cataracts in captive pinnipeds in the United States and the Bahamas. Design Cross-sectional study. Animals 111 pinnipeds (99 California sea lions [Zalophus californianus), 10 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), and 2 walruses [Odobenus rosmarus]) from 9 facilities. Procedures Eyes of each pinniped were examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist for the presence of cataracts or lens luxations and photographed. Information detailing husbandry practices, history, and facilities was collected with a questionnaire, and descriptive statistical analyses were performed for continuous and categorical variables. Odds ratios and associated 95% confidence intervals were estimated from the final model. Results Risk factors for lens luxation, cataracts, or both included age ≥ 15 years, history of fighting, history of ocular disease, and insufficient access to shade. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance Diseases of the lens commonly affect captive pinnipeds. Access to UV-protective shade, early identification and medical management of ocular diseases, and prevention of fighting can limit the frequency or severity of lens- related disease in this population. An extended life span may result from captivity, but this also allows development of pathological changes associated with aging, including cataracts.


Sklansky M.,Childrens Hospital Los Angeles | Renner M.,Dolphin Research Center | Clough P.,Dolphin Research Center | Levine G.,Dolphin Quest Inc. | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2010

In humans, fetal echocardiography represents the most important tool for the assessment of the cardiovascular well-being of the fetus. However, because of logistic, anatomic, and behavioral challenges, detailed fetal echocardiographic evaluation of marine mammals has not been previously described. Because the application of fetal echocardiography to cetaceans could have both clinical and academic importance, an approach to evaluating the fetal dolphin's cardiovascular status was developed with conventional, fetal echocardiographic techniques developed in humans. Eight singleton fetal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were evaluated, each between 6 and 11 mo gestation; six fetuses underwent two fetal echocardiographic evaluations each, four at 3-mo intervals, and two at 0.5-mo intervals. Evaluations were performed without sedation, using conventional, portable ultrasound systems. Multiple transducers, probes, and maternal dolphin positions were used to optimize image quality. Fetal echocardiography included two-dimensional imaging and color flow mapping of the heart and great arteries, as well as pulsed Doppler evaluation of the umbilical artery and vein. Thorough evaluations of the fetal dolphins' cardiovascular status were performed, with the greatest resolution between 8 and 9 mo gestation. With the use of published human fetal echocardiographic findings for comparison, fetal echocardiography demonstrated normal structure and function of the heart and great arteries, including the pulmonary veins, inferior vena cava, right and left atria, foramen ovale, tricuspid and mitral valves, right and left ventricles, ventricular septum, pulmonary and aortic valves, main pulmonary artery and ascending aorta, and ductus arteriosus. Pulsed Doppler techniques demonstrated normal umbilical arterial and venous waveforms, and color flow mapping demonstrated absence of significant valvar regurgitation. Fetal echocardiography, particularly between 8 and 9 mo gestation, can provide a safe and detailed assessment of the cardiovascular status of the fetal bottlenose dolphin. Copyright 2010 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


Jaakkola K.,Dolphin Research Center
Journal of Comparative Psychology | Year: 2014

The ability to mentally represent the movement of hidden objects (i.e., invisible displacement) is of theoretical importance due to its generally accepted status as an indicator of the development of a powerful type of representational capacity in human children. Over the past few decades, the understanding of invisible displacement has been claimed for a variety of animal species as well. However, a careful review of these studies finds that: (a) many were not properly blinded, (b) many did not properly control for lower-level associative strategies, and (c) success on simplified versions of the tasks can be explained by a simple attentional mechanism rather than by conceptual understanding. Indeed, when lower-level factors are controlled, evidence of understanding invisible displacement remains only for great apes. © 2014 American Psychological Association.


King S.L.,University of Western Australia | Allen S.J.,University of Western Australia | Connor R.C.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | Jaakkola K.,Dolphin Research Center
Animal Cognition | Year: 2016

Two recent papers by Kuczaj et al. (Anim Cognit 18:543–550, 2015) and Eskelinen et al. (Anim Cognit 19:789–797, 2016) claim to have demonstrated that (i) bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) cooperated to solve a novel task and (ii) vocal signals were important for coordinating these cooperative efforts. Although it is likely that bottlenose dolphins may share communicative signals in order to achieve a common goal, we suggest that this has not been demonstrated in the aforementioned studies. Here, we discuss the two main problems that preclude any definitive conclusions being drawn on cooperative task success and vocal communication from these studies. The first lies in the experimental design. The ‘cooperative task’, involving an apparatus that requires two dolphins to pull in opposite directions in order to achieve a food reward, is not conducive to cooperation, but could instead reflect a competitive ‘tug-of-war’. It is therefore of questionable use in distinguishing competitive from cooperative interactions. Second, the suggestion that the occurrence of burst-pulsed signals in this task was indicative of cooperation is disputable, as (i) this study could not determine which dolphins were actually producing the signals and (ii) this sound type is more commonly associated with aggressive signalling in dolphins. We commend the authors for investigating this exciting and topical area in animal communication and cognition, but the question of whether dolphins cooperate and communicate to solve a cooperative task remains as yet unanswered. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Jaakkola K.,Dolphin Research Center | Guarino E.,Dolphin Research Center | Rodriguez M.,Dolphin Research Center | Hecksher J.,Dolphin Research Center
Animal Cognition | Year: 2013

Scientists have long debated the extent to which animals can imitate. Observations of bottlenose dolphins suggest a sophisticated capacity for social imitation, but little is known about the nature of these abilities. Here, we explore the behavioral mechanisms underlying a dolphin's ability to copy motor actions while blindfolded (i.e., wearing eyecups). When a dolphin was asked to imitate a dolphin, a human, and then another dolphin blindfolded, his accuracy remained relatively consistent across models. However, his blindfolded echolocation dramatically increased when copying a human as compared to other dolphins, suggesting he actively switched between strategies: recognizing behaviors via characteristic sounds when possible, but via echolocation for the more novel sounding behaviors of the human. Such flexibility in changing perceptual routes demonstrates that the dolphin's imitation was not automatically elicited, but rather results from an intentional, problem-solving approach to imitation. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Jaakkola K.,Dolphin Research Center
Journal of Comparative Psychology | Year: 2015

Jaakkola (2014) argued that because the majority of studies of animals' understanding of invisible displacement did not adequately control for the use of alternative lower-level strategies, clear and solid evidence for a conceptual understanding of invisible displacement existed only for great apes. Pepperberg (2015) takes issue with this conclusion with respect to Grey parrots. While I agree that olfactory and social cueing may not be issues of concern for parrots, I reiterate the need for a study that adequately controls for associative learning before we can confidently claim that parrots understand invisible displacement. © 2015 American Psychological Association.


PubMed | University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Western Australia and Dolphin Research Center
Type: Letter | Journal: Animal cognition | Year: 2016

Two recent papers by Kuczaj et al. (Anim Cognit 18:543-550, 2015) and Eskelinen et al. (Anim Cognit 19:789-797, 2016) claim to have demonstrated that (i) bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) cooperated to solve a novel task and (ii) vocal signals were important for coordinating these cooperative efforts. Although it is likely that bottlenose dolphins may share communicative signals in order to achieve a common goal, we suggest that this has not been demonstrated in the aforementioned studies. Here, we discuss the two main problems that preclude any definitive conclusions being drawn on cooperative task success and vocal communication from these studies. The first lies in the experimental design. The cooperative task, involving an apparatus that requires two dolphins to pull in opposite directions in order to achieve a food reward, is not conducive to cooperation, but could instead reflect a competitive tug-of-war. It is therefore of questionable use in distinguishing competitive from cooperative interactions. Second, the suggestion that the occurrence of burst-pulsed signals in this task was indicative of cooperation is disputable, as (i) this study could not determine which dolphins were actually producing the signals and (ii) this sound type is more commonly associated with aggressive signalling in dolphins. We commend the authors for investigating this exciting and topical area in animal communication and cognition, but the question of whether dolphins cooperate and communicate to solve a cooperative task remains as yet unanswered.


King S.L.,Dolphin Research Center | King S.L.,University of Western Australia | Guarino E.,Dolphin Research Center | Keaton L.,Dolphin Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Behavioural Processes | Year: 2016

Individual vocal signatures play an important role in parent-offspring recognition in many animals. One species that uses signature calls to accurately facilitate individual recognition is the bottlenose dolphin. Female dolphins and their calves will use their highly individualised signature whistles to identify and maintain contact with one another. Previous studies have shown high signature whistle rates of both mothers and calves during forced separations. In more natural settings, it appears that the calf vocalises more frequently to initiate reunions with its mother. However, little is known about the mechanisms a female dolphin may employ when there is strong motivation for her to reunite with her calf. In this study, we conducted a series of experimental trials in which we asked a female dolphin to retrieve either her wandering calf or a series of inanimate objects (control). Our results show that she used her vocal signature to actively recruit her calf, and produced no such signal when asked to retrieve the objects. This is the first study to clearly manipulate a dolphin's motivation to retrieve her calf with experimental controls. The results highlight that signature whistles are not only used in broadcasting individual identity, but that maternal signature whistle use is important in facilitating mother-calf reunions. © 2016 Elsevier B.V..


PubMed | University of Western Australia and Dolphin Research Center
Type: | Journal: Behavioural processes | Year: 2016

Individual vocal signatures play an important role in parent-offspring recognition in many animals. One species that uses signature calls to accurately facilitate individual recognition is the bottlenose dolphin. Female dolphins and their calves will use their highly individualised signature whistles to identify and maintain contact with one another. Previous studies have shown high signature whistle rates of both mothers and calves during forced separations. In more natural settings, it appears that the calf vocalises more frequently to initiate reunions with its mother. However, little is known about the mechanisms a female dolphin may employ when there is strong motivation for her to reunite with her calf. In this study, we conducted a series of experimental trials in which we asked a female dolphin to retrieve either her wandering calf or a series of inanimate objects (control). Our results show that she used her vocal signature to actively recruit her calf, and produced no such signal when asked to retrieve the objects. This is the first study to clearly manipulate a dolphins motivation to retrieve her calf with experimental controls. The results highlight that signature whistles are not only used in broadcasting individual identity, but that maternal signature whistle use is important in facilitating mother-calf reunions.

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