Georgia Aquarium Inc.

Atlanta, GA, United States

Georgia Aquarium Inc.

Atlanta, GA, United States

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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Since 2003, a global community of shark researchers and divers has united in studying the world’s biggest fish: the endangered whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Their global research platform—Wildbook for Whale Sharks (https://www.whaleshark.org)—has combined over 120 researchers and volunteers with 5000+ citizen scientists into a global community focused on studying the population size and migrations of this rare and gentle giant. Thought to live 60 to 120 years and grow up to 60 feet (20 m) in length, whale sharks are tracked by combining human data collection with computer vision, allowing each animal to be individually identified by the unique pattern of spots on its body. Divers and snorkelers have been serving as “citizen scientists” for years, contributing their whale shark photos to whaleshark.org, where each animal receives its own page of data, much like a Facebook profile. For example, “JimmiXS” is a whale shark that scientists and divers have joined together in tracking between Mexico, Belize, and the United States. See the profile page for JimmiXS on whaleshark.org. This successful research community now has a new member: a machine learning solution called “Wildbook A.I.” Based on a deep convolutional neural network (a form of artificial intelligence) developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Wildbook A.I. quietly reviews videos on YouTube, looking for the telltale spot patterns of whale sharks and adding the extracted photos, dates, and locations to Wildbook. Jason Holmberg, a director at Wild Me and co-founder of whaleshark.org, provided the inspiration for the project. “A surprising number of vacation videos that include whale sharks are posted to YouTube every day. I spent two years looking through the vacation videos of divers and snorkelers in the Philippines, Maldives, Mexico, and many other locations. The volume of whale shark sightings and identifications that I created by data-mining social media in my spare time quickly eclipsed that of my colleagues in the field. But it was a very manual process, and it was a great opportunity to push the boundaries of wildlife research and computer science. Wild Me partnered with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Illinois-Chicago on a National Science Foundation grant to explore how much wildlife data could be extracted from social media. For whale sharks, it turned out to be a lot.” Jon Van Oast, lead software developer for Wild Me, took on the task of building the software to find and identify whale sharks on YouTube, turning vacation videos into a wildlife data source. “My hope is to use technology to reduce the work involved in finding and processing potentially useful data, with the goal of leaving people free to have fun taking photos or do their research.” Jon was joined by Jason Parham, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the lab of Dr Chuck Stewart. Jason designed and trained the neural network to find whale sharks in these videos from different poses and angles. The A.I. can find frames of the video with whale sharks and intelligently group them. Wild Me then added natural language–processing software to try to determine where and when the whale sharks were sighted based on YouTube comments. The resulting structured data are then fed back to the research community for further analysis, augmenting the breadth and depth of data available for migration and population analysis. The team’s collaborative work is being presented this week at the 2017 Citizen Science Association Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr Alistair Dove, Vice President of Research and Conservation at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, said, “As a whale shark researcher, the power of the Wildbook technology to make connections for us and grow our understanding of this species is invaluable. When you add in the citizen science component, then whale shark conservation becomes something that everyone can be a part of, which is so important for this majestic but endangered species.” According to Jason Holmberg, “One of the limitations of citizen science has always been outreach. People have to know about your project to participate. And if you’re successful in outreach, then your project has to effortlessly scale to incorporate the flood of data that can be gathered. By sending A.I. out into social media, we have the potential to get a lot of wildlife data that we would normally miss. And in the future we want to report back on what we find and interact with users who have no idea that their vacation videos have scientific value and contain rare and unique animals that scientists are tracking around the globe. A.I. and computer vision provide the technology foundation for the citizen science projects of the future. And it’s truly amazing that our whale shark research community now has a full-time member who isn’t human. We will no doubt increasingly rely on A.I. to help us understand and protect wildlife.” You can learn more about cutting edge science for whale sharks at http://www.whaleshark.org and even adopt and follow the individual sharks in our study. Photos High resolution whale shark photos for use in publication can be found at: https://www.whaleshark.org/contactus.jsp The Wildbook for Whale Sharks photo-identification library is a visual database of whale shark (Rhincodon typus) encounters and of individually catalogued whale sharks. The library is maintained and used by marine biologists to collect and analyze whale shark sighting data to learn more about these amazing creatures. The Wildbook uses photographs of each shark’s unique skin patterning behind its gills and its scars to distinguish between individual animals. Cutting-edge software supports rapid identification using pattern recognition and photo management tools. You, too, can assist with whale shark research by submitting photos and sighting data. The information you submit will be used in population studies to help with the global conservation of this threatened species. http://www.whaleshark.org info(at)whaleshark(dot)org Whaleshark.org is developed by the Portland, Oregon–based nonprofit Wild Me as part of the joint Wildbook™ project, which includes biologists, data scientists, and computer vision researchers at Princeton University (Dr Dan Rubenstein), University of Illinois at Chicago (Dr Tanya Berger-Wolf), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Dr Chuck Stewart). Wildbook is the first multi-disciplinary, multi-institution project to blend artificial intelligence, computer vision, and citizen science for wildlife research. Wildbook has been developed with the support of the National Science Foundation and Amazon’s AWS Cloud Credits for Research Program.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

For humans, there are hundreds of antibodies available on the market today to evaluate immune status in health and diseases. However, for the more than 42 known species of dolphins around the world, commercially available marine-specific antibodies do not exist. With the drastic increase in the number of unusual dolphin strandings and deaths along the southeastern coast of the United States and elsewhere, finding specific antibodies to test, monitor and document their immune health is critical. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, conducted a study to identify cross-reactive terrestrial-specific antibodies for dolphins, which is the first study to characterize their immune cell subsets using this methodology. The goal of this study was to assess changes in immune cell populations in dolphins in the wild and results are published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research. "We know that a strong immune system is important for combatting infectious diseases and cancer in both humans and animals," said Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi, DVM., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of integrated medical science in FAU's College of Medicine. "Wild dolphins are impacted by newly characterized infectious disease and cancer, often associated with immunologic disturbances, which are now being better characterized." While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. The gold standard to monitor immune status and disease progression in humans is flow cytometry, a powerful tool that is used to rapidly measure and isolate immune cells. However, flow cytometry for dolphins requires the use of dolphin specific antibodies that are presently limited for the many different types of immune cells. To address this limitation, Nouri-Shirazi's team identified cross-reactive, terrestrial-specific antibodies to phenotype the immune cells of dolphins under human care and compare them with the immune status of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the wild. "When we compared the samples, we were able to see that the profile of some of the dolphins in the wild had changed significantly," said Nouri-Shirazi. "We saw abnormal distributions and increases in the percentages of the immune cells, which indirectly tells us that there may be a disease present." Results from this study show that out of 65 terrestrial-specific antibodies tested, 11 were cross-reactive and identified dolphin immune cell populations within their peripheral blood. Using these antibodies, the researchers found significant differences in the absolute number of cells expressing specific markers within their lymphocyte and monocyte fractions. They found that the cross-reactive antibodies not only identified specific changes in the immune cells of dolphins in the wild, but also opened up the possibility to investigate the causal relationship between immune disturbances and morbidity and mortality seen in these dolphins in the wild. "Georgia Aquarium's collaborative bottlenose dolphin research with FAU has demonstrated the intricate and dynamic interactions that occur between infectious disease, anthropogenic contaminants and immunologic responses. We have found that these interactions highlight the complexity of evaluating health in dolphins," said Gregory Bossart, VMD, Ph.D., co-author of the study and senior vice president and chief veterinary officer, Georgia aquarium. "Additionally, we have demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel species for understanding emerging or re-emerging diseases that may impact environmental and human health." Findings from this study open up the possibility of utilizing flow cytometry for routine health assessment by monitoring specific changes in immune cells of wild dolphins caused by environmental contaminants or infectious agents with the goal of understanding pathogenesis of diseases. The researchers anticipate that this new approach could be applicable to dolphins as well as other marine mammals including whales and manatees. "Down the road, we hope to further develop this approach as an important tool to accurately gauge dolphin health and immunity," said Nouri-Shirazi. "Ideally, we hope that our research triggers interest for companies to further develop and commercialize these biomarkers to help us monitor and document dolphin health worldwide." Co-authors of "Phenotyping and Comparing the Immune Cell Populations of Free-ranging Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates) and Dolphins Under Human Care" are Brittany F. Bible, FAU; Menghua Zeng, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical Center; and Saba Tamjidi, FAU. This research was sponsored by Georgia Aquarium's Research and Conservation Program. About the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is one of 147 accredited medical schools in the U.S. The college was launched in 2010, when the Florida Board of Governors made a landmark decision authorizing FAU to award the M.D. degree. After receiving approval from the Florida legislature and the governor, it became the 134th allopathic medical school in North America. With more than 70 full and part-time faculty and more than 1,300 affiliate faculty, the college matriculates 64 medical students each year and has been nationally recognized for its innovative curriculum. To further FAU's commitment to increase much needed medical residency positions in Palm Beach County and to ensure that the region will continue to have an adequate and well-trained physician workforce, the FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (GME) was formed in fall 2011 with five leading hospitals in Palm Beach County. In June 2014, FAU's College of Medicine welcomed its inaugural class of 36 residents in its first University-sponsored residency in internal medicine. Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit http://www. . Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its seven major galleries. For more information, visit georgiaaquarium.org.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: phys.org

While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. Credit: Florida Atlantic University For humans, there are hundreds of antibodies available on the market today to evaluate immune status in health and diseases. However, for the more than 42 known species of dolphins around the world, commercially available marine-specific antibodies do not exist. With the drastic increase in the number of unusual dolphin strandings and deaths along the southeastern coast of the United States and elsewhere, finding specific antibodies to test, monitor and document their immune health is critical. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, conducted a study to identify cross-reactive terrestrial-specific antibodies for dolphins, which is the first study to characterize their immune cell subsets using this methodology. The goal of this study was to assess changes in immune cell populations in dolphins in the wild and results are published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research. "We know that a strong immune system is important for combatting infectious diseases and cancer in both humans and animals," said Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi, DVM., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of integrated medical science in FAU's College of Medicine. "Wild dolphins are impacted by newly characterized infectious disease and cancer, often associated with immunologic disturbances, which are now being better characterized." While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. The gold standard to monitor immune status and disease progression in humans is flow cytometry, a powerful tool that is used to rapidly measure and isolate immune cells. However, flow cytometry for dolphins requires the use of dolphin specific antibodies that are presently limited for the many different types of immune cells. To address this limitation, Nouri-Shirazi's team identified cross-reactive, terrestrial-specific antibodies to phenotype the immune cells of dolphins under human care and compare them with the immune status of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the wild. "When we compared the samples, we were able to see that the profile of some of the dolphins in the wild had changed significantly," said Nouri-Shirazi. "We saw abnormal distributions and increases in the percentages of the immune cells, which indirectly tells us that there may be a disease present." Results from this study show that out of 65 terrestrial-specific antibodies tested, 11 were cross-reactive and identified dolphin immune cell populations within their peripheral blood. Using these antibodies, the researchers found significant differences in the absolute number of cells expressing specific markers within their lymphocyte and monocyte fractions. They found that the cross-reactive antibodies not only identified specific changes in the immune cells of dolphins in the wild, but also opened up the possibility to investigate the causal relationship between immune disturbances and morbidity and mortality seen in these dolphins in the wild. "Georgia Aquarium's collaborative bottlenose dolphin research with FAU has demonstrated the intricate and dynamic interactions that occur between infectious disease, anthropogenic contaminants and immunologic responses. We have found that these interactions highlight the complexity of evaluating health in dolphins," said Gregory Bossart, VMD, Ph.D., co-author of the study and senior vice president and chief veterinary officer, Georgia aquarium. "Additionally, we have demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel species for understanding emerging or re-emerging diseases that may impact environmental and human health." Findings from this study open up the possibility of utilizing flow cytometry for routine health assessment by monitoring specific changes in immune cells of wild dolphins caused by environmental contaminants or infectious agents with the goal of understanding pathogenesis of diseases. The researchers anticipate that this new approach could be applicable to dolphins as well as other marine mammals including whales and manatees. "Down the road, we hope to further develop this approach as an important tool to accurately gauge dolphin health and immunity," said Nouri-Shirazi. "Ideally, we hope that our research triggers interest for companies to further develop and commercialize these biomarkers to help us monitor and document dolphin health worldwide." Explore further: New study defines the environment as an influencer of immune system responses in dolphins More information: "Phenotyping and Comparing the Immune Cell Populations of Free-ranging Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates) and Dolphins Under Human Care" BMC Veterinary Research, 2017.


News Article | May 29, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

For humans, there are hundreds of antibodies available on the market to evaluate immune status in health and diseases. However, for the more than 42 known species of dolphins around the world, commercially available marine-specific antibodies do not exist. With the drastic increase in the number of unusual dolphin strandings and deaths along the southeastern coast of the United States and elsewhere, finding specific antibodies to test, monitor and document their immune health is critical. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, conducted a study to identify cross-reactive terrestrial-specific antibodies for dolphins, which is the first study to characterize their immune cell subsets using this methodology. The goal of this study was to assess changes in immune cell populations in dolphins in the wild and results are published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research. "We know that a strong immune system is important for combatting infectious diseases and cancer in both humans and animals," said Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi, DVM., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of integrated medical science in FAU's College of Medicine. "Wild dolphins are impacted by newly characterized infectious disease and cancer, often associated with immunologic disturbances, which are now being better characterized." While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. The gold standard to monitor immune status and disease progression in humans is flow cytometry, a powerful tool that is used to rapidly measure and isolate immune cells. However, flow cytometry for dolphins requires the use of dolphin specific antibodies that are presently limited for the many different types of immune cells. To address this limitation, Nouri-Shirazi's team identified cross-reactive, terrestrial-specific antibodies to phenotype the immune cells of dolphins under human care and compare them with the immune status of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the wild. "When we compared the samples, we were able to see that the profile of some of the dolphins in the wild had changed significantly," said Nouri-Shirazi. "We saw abnormal distributions and increases in the percentages of the immune cells, which indirectly tells us that there may be a disease present." Results from this study show that out of 65 terrestrial-specific antibodies tested, 11 were cross-reactive and identified dolphin immune cell populations within their peripheral blood. Using these antibodies, the researchers found significant differences in the absolute number of cells expressing specific markers within their lymphocyte and monocyte fractions. They found that the cross-reactive antibodies not only identified specific changes in the immune cells of dolphins in the wild, but also opened up the possibility to investigate the causal relationship between immune disturbances and morbidity and mortality seen in these dolphins in the wild. "Georgia Aquarium's collaborative bottlenose dolphin research with FAU has demonstrated the intricate and dynamic interactions that occur between infectious disease, anthropogenic contaminants and immunologic responses. We have found that these interactions highlight the complexity of evaluating health in dolphins," said Gregory Bossart, VMD, Ph.D., co-author of the study and senior vice president and chief veterinary officer, Georgia aquarium. "Additionally, we have demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel species for understanding emerging or re-emerging diseases that may impact environmental and human health." Findings from this study open up the possibility of utilizing flow cytometry for routine health assessment by monitoring specific changes in immune cells of wild dolphins caused by environmental contaminants or infectious agents with the goal of understanding pathogenesis of diseases. The researchers anticipate that this new approach could be applicable to dolphins as well as other marine mammals including whales and manatees. "Down the road, we hope to further develop this approach as an important tool to accurately gauge dolphin health and immunity," said Nouri-Shirazi. "Ideally, we hope that our research triggers interest for companies to further develop and commercialize these biomarkers to help us monitor and document dolphin health worldwide."


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

For humans, there are hundreds of antibodies available on the market today to evaluate immune status in health and diseases. However, for the more than 42 known species of dolphins around the world, commercially available marine-specific antibodies do not exist. With the drastic increase in the number of unusual dolphin strandings and deaths along the southeastern coast of the United States and elsewhere, finding specific antibodies to test, monitor and document their immune health is critical. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, conducted a study to identify cross-reactive terrestrial-specific antibodies for dolphins, which is the first study to characterize their immune cell subsets using this methodology. The goal of this study was to assess changes in immune cell populations in dolphins in the wild and results are published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research. “We know that a strong immune system is important for combatting infectious diseases and cancer in both humans and animals,” said Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi, lead author of the study and a professor of integrated medical science in FAU’s College of Medicine. “Wild dolphins are impacted by newly characterized infectious disease and cancer, often associated with immunologic disturbances, which are now being better characterized.” While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. The gold standard to monitor immune status and disease progression in humans is flow cytometry, a powerful tool that is used to rapidly measure and isolate immune cells. However, flow cytometry for dolphins requires the use of dolphin specific antibodies that are presently limited for the many different types of immune cells. To address this limitation, Nouri-Shirazi’s team identified cross-reactive, terrestrial-specific antibodies to phenotype the immune cells of dolphins under human care and compare them with the immune status of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the wild. “When we compared the samples, we were able to see that the profile of some of the dolphins in the wild had changed significantly,” said Nouri-Shirazi. “We saw abnormal distributions and increases in the percentages of the immune cells, which indirectly tells us that there may be a disease present.” Results from this study show that out of 65 terrestrial-specific antibodies tested, 11 were cross-reactive and identified dolphin immune cell populations within their peripheral blood. Using these antibodies, the researchers found significant differences in the absolute number of cells expressing specific markers within their lymphocyte and monocyte fractions. They found that the cross-reactive antibodies not only identified specific changes in the immune cells of dolphins in the wild, but also opened up the possibility to investigate the causal relationship between immune disturbances and morbidity and mortality seen in these dolphins in the wild. “Georgia Aquarium’s collaborative bottlenose dolphin research with FAU has demonstrated the intricate and dynamic interactions that occur between infectious disease, anthropogenic contaminants and immunologic responses. We have found that these interactions highlight the complexity of evaluating health in dolphins,” said Gregory Bossart, co-author of the study and senior vice president and chief veterinary officer, Georgia Aquarium. “Additionally, we have demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel species for understanding emerging or re-emerging diseases that may impact environmental and human health.” Findings from this study open up the possibility of utilizing flow cytometry for routine health assessment by monitoring specific changes in immune cells of wild dolphins caused by environmental contaminants or infectious agents with the goal of understanding pathogenesis of diseases. The researchers anticipate that this new approach could be applicable to dolphins as well as other marine mammals including whales and manatees. “Down the road, we hope to further develop this approach as an important tool to accurately gauge dolphin health and immunity,” said Nouri-Shirazi. “Ideally, we hope that our research triggers interest for companies to further develop and commercialize these biomarkers to help us monitor and document dolphin health worldwide.”


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

For humans, there are hundreds of antibodies available on the market today to evaluate immune status in health and diseases. However, for the more than 42 known species of dolphins around the world, commercially available marine-specific antibodies do not exist. With the drastic increase in the number of unusual dolphin strandings and deaths along the southeastern coast of the United States and elsewhere, finding specific antibodies to test, monitor and document their immune health is critical. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, conducted a study to identify cross-reactive terrestrial-specific antibodies for dolphins, which is the first study to characterize their immune cell subsets using this methodology. The goal of this study was to assess changes in immune cell populations in dolphins in the wild and results are published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research. “We know that a strong immune system is important for combatting infectious diseases and cancer in both humans and animals,” said Mahyar Nouri-Shirazi, lead author of the study and a professor of integrated medical science in FAU’s College of Medicine. “Wild dolphins are impacted by newly characterized infectious disease and cancer, often associated with immunologic disturbances, which are now being better characterized.” While there are a number of studies and reports that suggest a correlation between environmental contaminants, immune disturbances and disease susceptibility in wild dolphins and other marine mammals, scientists and veterinarians need a way to characterize, monitor and evaluate specific immune cells to investigate and confirm this correlation. The gold standard to monitor immune status and disease progression in humans is flow cytometry, a powerful tool that is used to rapidly measure and isolate immune cells. However, flow cytometry for dolphins requires the use of dolphin specific antibodies that are presently limited for the many different types of immune cells. To address this limitation, Nouri-Shirazi’s team identified cross-reactive, terrestrial-specific antibodies to phenotype the immune cells of dolphins under human care and compare them with the immune status of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the wild. “When we compared the samples, we were able to see that the profile of some of the dolphins in the wild had changed significantly,” said Nouri-Shirazi. “We saw abnormal distributions and increases in the percentages of the immune cells, which indirectly tells us that there may be a disease present.” Results from this study show that out of 65 terrestrial-specific antibodies tested, 11 were cross-reactive and identified dolphin immune cell populations within their peripheral blood. Using these antibodies, the researchers found significant differences in the absolute number of cells expressing specific markers within their lymphocyte and monocyte fractions. They found that the cross-reactive antibodies not only identified specific changes in the immune cells of dolphins in the wild, but also opened up the possibility to investigate the causal relationship between immune disturbances and morbidity and mortality seen in these dolphins in the wild. “Georgia Aquarium’s collaborative bottlenose dolphin research with FAU has demonstrated the intricate and dynamic interactions that occur between infectious disease, anthropogenic contaminants and immunologic responses. We have found that these interactions highlight the complexity of evaluating health in dolphins,” said Gregory Bossart, co-author of the study and senior vice president and chief veterinary officer, Georgia Aquarium. “Additionally, we have demonstrated that the bottlenose dolphin is a valuable sentinel species for understanding emerging or re-emerging diseases that may impact environmental and human health.” Findings from this study open up the possibility of utilizing flow cytometry for routine health assessment by monitoring specific changes in immune cells of wild dolphins caused by environmental contaminants or infectious agents with the goal of understanding pathogenesis of diseases. The researchers anticipate that this new approach could be applicable to dolphins as well as other marine mammals including whales and manatees. “Down the road, we hope to further develop this approach as an important tool to accurately gauge dolphin health and immunity,” said Nouri-Shirazi. “Ideally, we hope that our research triggers interest for companies to further develop and commercialize these biomarkers to help us monitor and document dolphin health worldwide.”


Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (HERA) team members secure an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin while a health exam is performed. Credit: Georgia Aquarium/Addison Hill Two populations of wild dolphins living off the coast of Florida and South Carolina are experiencing more chronically activated immune systems than dolphins living in controlled environments, raising concerns of researchers about overall ocean health, and the long-term health of bottlenose dolphins. The research, publishing May 3 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE is the first study of its kind analyzing the role the environment plays in the overall health and immune response of dolphins in the wild compared to those in human care. "This is likely a result of encountering pathogens, parasites and anthropogenic pollutants in the ocean that do not exist in closely managed zoological habitats," said Patricia Fair, PhD, lead author of the study and Research Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. "The immune system is incredibly complex and so very important for health. Microbes are part of the natural world and help to develop the immune system. The key to a healthy immune system is a balance between being able to recognize harmful organisms and overstimulation and this study demonstrates the importance of the environment in these responses." The study analyzed samples and data from four populations of dolphins: Dr. Gregory Bossart, a co-author on the study and Chief Veterinary Officer at Georgia Aquarium has been conducting routine health assessments with colleagues on more than 360 individual dolphins living in Indian River Lagoon and Charleston since 2003 as part of the Health and Environmental Risk Assessment Project (HERA). During that time, HERA researchers have recorded emerging infectious diseases, tumors, antibiotic resistant bacteria and alarmingly high levels of contaminants in dolphins from both wild populations. Because dolphins are high on the food chain, they bioaccumulate any toxins ingested by their prey. In the Indian River Lagoon, samples revealed high levels of mercury in the native dolphin population, which HERA researchers suggest could be impacting the health of local fishermen and residents. Not reflected in this current study, but previously published work by HERA researchers, details how these dolphins also exhibited cutaneous fungal disease associated with immune suppression as well as new, emerging viruses and infectious agents some of which are also potential human pathogens. Researchers studying the dolphin population near Charleston documented high levels of human-introduced organic chemicals likely introduced into the water from industrial and non-point sources. The study's findings suggest environmental stressors are having an impact on the immune responses of the wild dolphins, creating more chronically activated immune systems, which, in turn, could help explain why the health of wild dolphins in both populations is considered compromised with less than half found to be clinically normal. "Importantly, the chronic immune system activation as found in the wild dolphins of this study could lead to eventual immunologic dysregulation and the inability to eliminate chronic inflammation. In humans, this type of prolonged smoldering inflammation is associated with cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, and increased vulnerability to infectious disease," said Bossart. "These wild dolphins are trying to tell us something and we are not listening. As a sentinel species, dolphins are an important way to gauge the overall health of our oceans. If wild dolphins aren't doing well, it could also indicate future impacts to ocean health and even our own health." By contrast, dolphins living in managed care environments had less chronically activated immune systems, which Bossart suggests is not surprising. "Dolphins in human care are exposed to fewer pathogens because of environmental controls of water and food quality and preventative medical programs. Thus, their immune responses tend to be more focused and short acting. Our findings suggest that the wild dolphins of our study have immune systems that are chronically activated and challenged." "Georgia Aquarium's HERA Project will continue to look at the health of these two wild dolphin populations, and may grow to include additional populations," said Bossart. "We believe this work will open the doors to additional research on how the surrounding environment impacts the health and immune response of dolphins and other marine species. Explore further: Dolphin health is connected to human well-being


Soto E.,Ross University School of Medicine | Berliner A.,Georgia Aquarium Inc. | Clauss T.,Georgia Aquarium Inc. | Sanchez S.,University of Georgia
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2013

This report details 2 cases of epitheliocystis in spotted eagle rays Aetobatus narinari associated with a novel Chlamydiales 16S rDNA signature sequence. Epitheliocystis is a common disease of variable severity affecting >50 species of wild and cultured freshwater and marine teleosts. Disease in elasmobranchs is rarely reported and descriptions are limited. Occurring in gill and skin epithelium, lesions are characterized by large hypertrophied cells with basophilic inclusions containing Gram-negative, chlamydia-like bacteria. Acute lethargy, labored respiration, and abnormal swimming developed in a captive spotted eagle ray following an uneventful quarantine period, and mild epitheliocystis lesions were found microscopically. Three months later, a second animal exhibited similar signs. A gill clip revealed myriad spherical bodies identical to the previous case, and treatment with chloramphenicol and oxytetracycline was initiated. Despite therapy, respiration became irregular and euthanasia was elected. Histologically, epitheliocystis inclusions up to 200 μm filled approximately 80% of lamellar troughs. Multifocal mild hypertrophy and hyperplasia of lamellar tips was accompanied by mild to moderate infiltrates of granulocytes and lymphocytes. Electron microscopy revealed a homogeneous population of elongate chlamydia-like bacterial forms similar in size and morphology to the primary long cells described in teleosts. Immunohistochemical staining with a polyclonal anti-chlamydial lipopolysaccharide antibody was positive. Sequence analysis of a unique 296 bp Chlamydiales signature sequence amplicon isolated from the rays showed greatest homology (85 to 87%) to 'Candidatus Piscichlamydia salmonis'. © Inter-Research 2013.


Trademark
Georgia Aquarium Inc. | Date: 2012-05-30

decorative magnets; prerecorded CDs featuring the sound track from a live show at a public aquarium; prerecorded video discs featuring educational information on aquatic subjects and a documentary on the making of a public aquarium; mouse pads. flashlights. ornamental lapel pins; bracelets; necklaces; earrings. decals; postcards; bookmarks; lunch bags; and stationery sets consisting of stickers, pads, and pencils. all-purpose reusable carrying bags; backpacks. photograph frames; decorative non-metal clips for attaching lightweight items to metal surfaces. reusable plastic water bottles sold empty; aluminum water bottles sold empty; insulated containers for beverage cans for domestic use; drinking cups; drinking cups sold with lids therefor; shot glasses; mugs; foldable metallic water bottles sold empty; thermal insulated containers for beverages. clothing, namely, t-shirts; pajama bottoms; boxer shorts; baseball caps; sweat shirts; knit caps; cloth bibs; and sets comprised of a t-shirt and baseball cap. ornamental cloth patches. trail mix consisting primarily of processed nuts, seeds, dried fruit and also including chocolate. lollipops, chocolate bars, toffee, cookies, pretzels, gummy candies.


Trademark
Georgia Aquarium Inc. | Date: 2016-03-01

Ornamental lapel pins. Coloring books; postcards and greeting cards. All-purpose reusable carrying bags. Plastic key chains, picture and photograph frames. Water bottles sold empty. Graphic t-shirts. Stuffed toy animals. Entertainment services in the nature of personal appearances by a costumed mascot at special events and parties; entertainment services in the nature of a public aquarium; Photography services in the nature of photo booths.

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