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Atlanta, GA, United States

Homerding M.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Homerding M.,N 541 Tribal Center Road | McElroy A.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Taylor G.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Shellfish Research | Year: 2012

Epizootic shell disease (ESD) affects lobsters (Homarus americanus) in eastern Long Island Sound (ELIS) and the near-shore waters of southern New England. Marring the shell of individuals, ESD decreases the economic value of infected lobsters and can lead to mortality in severely affected individuals. ESD tends to be most common in areas around Buzzards Bay, RI, and ELIS, and least prevalent in offshore canyons, off Maine's coast, and in western Long Island Sound (WLIS). To investigate the potential role of the immune system in determining an individual's or population's susceptibility to ESD, the immunocompetence and disease status of lobsters with and without signs of ESD from ELIS, WLIS, and Boothbay Harbor, ME, were assessed during late spring (June) 2007. We also measured internal defense parameters of ELIS lobsters during midsummer (August 2007), early fall (October 2007), and the following spring (June 2008) to assess how lobster immune systems respond temporarily. Despite high interindividual variability in defense-related factors, multivariate analyses showed that lobsters from ELIS presented significantly reduced immune responses relative to lobsters from either WLIS or Maine. Disease severity correlated negatively with several immune parameters, suggesting that the higher prevalence of ESD in ELIS may be related, at least in part, to reduced immunocompetency of ELIS lobsters. Source

Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, display a number of behaviors that suggest these animals can locate food from afar, as well as identify and discriminate between food items. However, their intractably large size and relative rarity in the field has so far prevented direct studies of their behavior and sensory capability. A small population of aquarium-held whale sharks facilitated direct studies of behavior in response to chemical stimulus plumes. Whale sharks were exposed to plumes composed of either homogenized krill or simple aqueous solutions of dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is associated with krill aggregations and is used by several pelagic species as a food-finding stimulus. Whale sharks exhibited pronounced ingestive and search behaviors when exposed to both types of stimuli, compared to control trials. Ingestive behaviors included open mouth swimming and active surface feeding (gulping). These behaviors were stronger and more prevalent in response to krill homogenate plumes than to DMS plumes. Both chemical stimuli also increased visitation rate, and krill homogenate plumes additionally affected swimming speed. Whale sharks use chemosensory cues of multiple types to locate and identify palatable food, suggesting that chemical stimuli can help direct long-range movements and allow discrimination of different food items. There appears to be a hierarchy of responses: krill metabolites directly associated with food produced more frequent and intense feeding responses relative to DMS, which is indirectly associated with krill. DMS is used to find food by a number of pelagic species and may be an important signaling molecule in pelagic food webs. © 2015 Marine Biological Laboratory. Source

Bossart G.D.,Georgia Aquarium | Bossart G.D.,University of Miami
Veterinary Pathology | Year: 2011

The long-term consequences of climate change and potential environmental degradation are likely to include aspects of disease emergence in marine plants and animals. In turn, these emerging diseases may have epizootic potential, zoonotic implications, and a complex pathogenesis involving other cofactors such as anthropogenic contaminant burden, genetics, and immunologic dysfunction. The concept of marine sentinel organisms provides one approach to evaluating aquatic ecosystem health. Such sentinels are barometers for current or potential negative impacts on individual- and population-level animal health. In turn, using marine sentinels permits better characterization and management of impacts that ultimately affect animal and human health associated with the oceans. Marine mammals are prime sentinel species because many species have long life spans, are long-term coastal residents, feed at a high trophic level, and have unique fat stores that can serve as depots for anthropogenic toxins. Marine mammals may be exposed to environmental stressors such as chemical pollutants, harmful algal biotoxins, and emerging or resurging pathogens. Since many marine mammal species share the coastal environment with humans and consume the same food, they also may serve as effective sentinels for public health problems. Finally, marine mammals are charismatic megafauna that typically stimulate an exaggerated human behavioral response and are thus more likely to be observed. © The American College of Veterinary Pathologists 2011. Source

The shortbodied blenny Exallias brevis is an obligate corallivore. Studies on Ha waiian reefs and casual observations on other Pacific reefs reveal that E. brevis feeds on a wide variety of scleractinian corals, including the hydrocoral Millepora spp. This blenny produces distinctive circular feeding marks of ca. 2 cm2 on corals; the marks can persist for 50 d or more. E. brevis is indigenous to the Red Sea and may be responsible for the multifocal bleaching syndrome in Red Sea Millepora dichotoma described by Zvuloni et al. (2011; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 441:25-32). © Inter-Research 2012 · www.int-res.com. Source

Schaefer A.M.,Florida Atlantic University | Jensen E.L.,Colorado State University | Bossart G.D.,Georgia Aquarium | Reif J.S.,Colorado State University
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health | Year: 2014

Mercury exposure through the consumption of fish and shellfish represents a significant public health concern in the United States. Recent research has demonstrated higher seafood consumption and subsequent increased risk of methylmercury exposure among subpopulations living in coastal areas. The identification of high concentrations of total mercury in blood and skin among resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), a coastal estuary in Florida, alerted us to a potential public health hazard in the contiguous human population. Therefore, we analyzed hair mercury concentrations of residents living along the IRL and ascertained their sources and patterns of seafood consumption. The total mean mercury concentration for 135 residents was 1.53 ± 1.89 μg/g. The concentration of hair mercury among males (2.02 ± 2.38 μg/g) was significantly higher than that for females (0.96 ± 0.74 μg/g) (p < 0.01). Log transformed hair mercury concentration was significantly associated with the frequency of total seafood consumption (p < 0.01). Individuals who reported consuming seafood once a day or more were 3.71 (95% CI 0.84-16.38) times more likely to have a total hair mercury concentration over 1.0 μg/g, which corresponds approximately to the U.S. EPA reference dose, compared to those who consumed seafood once a week or less. Hair mercury concentration was also significantly higher among individuals who obtained all or most of their seafood from local recreational sources (p < 0.01). The elevated human mercury concentrations mirror the elevated concentrations observed in resident dolphins in the same geographical region. The current study is one of the first to apply the concept of a sentinel animal to a contiguous human population. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Source

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