Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas

Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Eroh G.D.,Huntsman Cancer Institute | Eroh G.D.,University of Georgia | Clayton F.C.,University of Utah | Florell S.R.,University of Utah | And 16 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2017

Southern right whales (SRWs, Eubalena australis) are polymorphic for an X-linked pigmentation pattern known as grey morphism. Most SRWs have completely black skin with white patches on their bellies and occasionally on their backs; these patches remain white as the whale ages. Grey morphs (previously referred to as partial albinos) appear mostly white at birth, with a splattering of rounded black marks; but as the whales age, the white skin gradually changes to a brownish grey color. The cellular and developmental bases of grey morphism are not understood. Here we describe cellular and ultrastructural features of grey-morph skin in relation to that of normal, wild-type skin. Melanocytes were identified histologically and counted, and melanosomes were measured using transmission electron microscopy. Grey-morph skin had fewer melanocytes when compared to wild-type skin, suggesting reduced melanocyte survival, migration, or proliferation in these whales. Grey-morph melanocytes had smaller melanosomes relative to wild-type skin, normal transport of melanosomes to surrounding keratinocytes, and normal localization of melanin granules above the keratinocyte nuclei. These findings indicate that SRW grey-morph pigmentation patterns are caused by reduced numbers of melanocytes in the skin, as well as by reduced amounts of melanin production and/or reduced sizes of mature melanosomes. Grey morphism is distinct from piebaldism and albinism found in other species, which are genetic pigmentation conditions resulting from the local absence of melanocytes, or the inability to synthesize melanin, respectively.This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.


Burkhardt-Holm P.,University of Basel | Iniguez M.,Fundacion Cethus | Luna F.,Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation CMA ICMBio | Parsons E.C.M.,George Mason University | And 5 more authors.
Marine Policy | Year: 2017

The International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Scientific Committee provides important advice to the IWC on a large variety of cetacean species, sub-species and populations and the issues affecting them. Cetaceans are facing increasing, non-whaling-related threats, and the Scientific Committee (SC), in accordance with the Commission's requests, has strengthened its conservation-oriented research work. A selection of the reports of the Scientific Committee from between 1986 and 2012 was assessed for its: (i) fundamental research; (ii) management; (iii) conservation; and (iv) administrative content, and to identify potential trends over time. Recommendations and their urgency were also examined, as implied from the language used by the SC in its reports. The analysis showed that the work of the Scientific Committee has increasingly been oriented towards conservation issues over the period reviewed, but at the same time this conservation work has received little funding. Increased support for conservation-related research projects is warranted to promote the long-term survival of cetaceans. Based on this review of the content and focus of the Committee reports, the analysis suggested that its issued advice be made clearer, whenever possible, and governments are urged to give due consideration to this science-based advice particularly when urgent conservation actions are needed. In addition, more consistent funding of the IWC's conservation-related research should be pursued to improve international conservation outputs regarding cetacean populations. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


Godard-Codding C.A.J.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Godard-Codding C.A.J.,Texas Tech University | Clark R.,Ocean Alliance | Fossi M.C.,University of Siena | And 16 more authors.
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2011

Background: Ocean pollution affects marine organisms and ecosystems as well as humans. The International Oceanographic Commission recommends ocean health monitoring programs to investigate the presence of marine contaminants and the health of threatened species and the use of multiple and early-warning biomarker approaches. Objective: We explored the hypothesis that biomarker and contaminant analyses in skin biopsies of the threatened sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) could reveal geographical trends in exposure on an oceanwide scale. Methods: We analyzed cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) expression (by immunohistochemistry), stable nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios (as general indicators of trophic position and latitude, respectively), and contaminant burdens in skin biopsies to explore regional trends in the Pacific Ocean. Results: Biomarker analyses revealed significant regional differences within the Pacific Ocean. CYP1A1 expression was highest in whales from the Galapagos, a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage marine reserve, and was lowest in the sampling sites farthest away from continents. We examined the possible influence of the whales' sex, diet, or range and other parameters on regional variation in CYP1A1 expression, but data were inconclusive. In general, CYP1A1 expression was not significantly correlated with contaminant burdens in blubber. However, small sample sizes precluded detailed chemical analyses, and power to detect significant associations was limited. Conclusions: Our large-scale monitoring study was successful at identifying regional differences in CYP1A1 expression, providing a baseline for this known biomarker of exposure to aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists. However, we could not identify factors that explained this variation. Future oceanwide CYP1A1 expression profiles in cetacean skin biopsies are warranted and could reveal whether globally distributed chemicals occur at biochemically relevant concentrations on a global basis, which may provide a measure of ocean integrity.


Maron C.F.,University of Utah | Maron C.F.,Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas | Beltramino L.,Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario Ballena Franca Austral | Di Martino M.,Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario Ballena Franca Austral | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

At least 626 southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) calves died at the Península Valdés calving ground, Argentina, between 2003 and 2014. Intense gull harassment may have contributed to these deaths. In the 1970s, Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus) began feeding on skin and blubber pecked from the backs of living right whales at Valdés. The frequency of gull attacks has increased dramatically over the last three decades and mother-calf pairs are the primary targets. Pairs attacked by gulls spend less time nursing, resting and playing than pairs not under attack. In successive attacks, gulls open new lesions on the whales' backs or enlarge preexisting ones. Increased wounding could potentially lead to dehydration, impaired thermoregulation, and energy loss to wound healing. The presence, number and total area of gull-inflicted lesions were assessed using aerial survey photographs of living mother-calf pairs in 1974-2011 (n = 2680) and stranding photographs of dead calves (n = 192) in 2003-2011. The percentage of living mothers and calves with gull lesions increased from an average of 2% in the 1970s to 99% in the 2000s. In the 1980s and 1990s, mothers and calves had roughly equal numbers of lesions (one to five), but by the 2000s, calves had more lesions (nine or more) covering a greater area of their backs compared to their mothers. Living mother-calf pairs and dead calves in Golfo Nuevo had more lesions than those in Golfo San José in the 2000s. The number and area of lesions increased with calf age during the calving season. Intensified Kelp Gull harassment at Península Valdés could be compromising calf health and thereby contributing to the high average rate of calf mortality observed in recent years, but it cannot explain the large year-to-year variance in calf deaths since 2000. © 2015 Marón et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Rowntree V.J.,Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program | Rowntree V.J.,University of Utah | Rowntree V.J.,Whale Conservation Institute Ocean Alliance | Rowntree V.J.,Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas | And 21 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2013

Hundreds of southern right whale calves Eubalaena australis died on their calving ground at Península Valdés, Argentina from 2003 through 2011. During this period, the number of dead calves increased at a much greater rate than that of living calves over the preceding 32 yr, and with greater inter-annual variation. High mortality events occurred late in the calving seasons of 2005 and 2007, early in the seasons of 2008 and 2009, and were equally divided between early and late in 2010 and 2011. Calves that died late in the seasons of 2005 and 2007 were at least a meter longer (mean 7.3 m) than newborns, indicating that they had grown and presumably were healthy before dying. An unusual number of large calves (>6 m) died early in the seasons of 2008 and 2009, suggesting that a population-wide process (e.g. nutritional stress) affected many mothers including older, larger mothers that tend to give birth to larger calves early in the season. Many tissue samples have been collected and analyzed, but no consistent lesions, pathologic processes or elevated levels of algal biotoxins have been identified to explain these recent mortality events. Here, we document the high mortality events, place them in historical context and describe ongoing efforts to identify their causes. As of 2010, the southern right whale sub-population that calves off Península Valdés was estimated to be less than 20% of its initial size before whaling; the ongoing high mortality of calves will significantly affect its recovery. © Inter-Research 2013.


McAloose D.,Wildlife Conservation Society | McAloose D.,Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program | Rago M.V.,Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program | Rago M.V.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 25 more authors.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2016

Between 2003 and 2012, 605 southern right whales (SRW; Eubalaena australis) were found dead along the shores of Península Valdés (PV), Argentina. These deaths included alarmingly high annual losses between 2007 and 2012, a peak number of deaths (116) in 2012, and a significant number of deaths across years in calves-of-the-year (544 of 605 [89.9%]; average = 60.4 yr-1). Postmortem examination and pathogen testing were performed on 212 whales; 208 (98.1%) were calvesof- the-year and 48.0% of these were newborns or neonates. A known or probable cause of death was established in only a small number (6.6%) of cases. These included ship strike in a juvenile and blunt trauma or lacerations (n = 5), pneumonia (n = 4), myocarditis (n = 2), meningitis (n = 1), or myocarditis and meningitis (n = 1) in calves. Ante-mortem gull parasitism was the most common gross finding. It was associated with systemic disease in a single 1-2 mo old calf. Immunohistochemical labeling for canine distemper virus, Toxoplasma gondii and Brucella spp., and PCR for cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV), influenza A, and apicomplexan protozoa were negative on formalin-fixed, paraffinembedded lung and brain samples from a subset of whales; PCR for Brucella spp. was positive in a newborn/neonate with pneumonia. Skin samples from whales with gull parasitism were PCR negative for CeMV, poxvirus, and papillomavirus. This is the first long-term study to investigate and summarize notable post-mortem findings in the PV SRW population. Consistent, significant findings within or between years to explain the majority of deaths and those in high-mortality years remain to be identified. © The authors 2016.


Valenzuela L.O.,University of Utah | Valenzuela L.O.,Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas | Sironi M.,Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas | Sironi M.,National University of Cordoba | And 2 more authors.
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2010

Lactation is the most energetically expensive aspect of mammalian reproduction. As capital breeders, lactating southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) are completely dependent on their stored nutrients. The relative proportion of different endogenous nutrient pools used during lactation could be assessed using stable isotopes. We determined the stable carbon and nitrogen isotope difference between skin samples of 42 southern right whale mothers and their calves. The mean δ15N value of calves was 0.51‰ higher than that of their mothers, but their δ13C values were identical. However, when analyzed by year, the mother-calf pairs showed no isotope differences in 2004, but calves had higher δ15N (0.85‰) and δ13C (0.63‰) in 2003 and 2005. We hypothesize that the inter-annual variability was a consequence of different levels of nutritional stress. A decline in food abundance prior to the nursing seasons could result in mothers with relatively poorer physical condition that would not be able to meet the high energetic demands of their offspring. Thus, the calves would be forced to utilize proteins as well as lipids to meet this demand, increasing their nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios. This hypothesis is supported by an independent assessment of the proportion of stranded whales over the same time period.


Lundquist D.,Texas A&M University | Sironi M.,Institute Conservacion Of Ballenas | Sironi M.,National University of Cordoba | Wursig B.,Texas A&M University at Galveston | And 3 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2013

Guidelines for sustainable tourism involving swimming with large whales are not well-developed compared to those focused on programs of swimming with delphinids. From September to November 2005 and August to September 2006, we collected behavioral and movement data for southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) exposed to interactions with boats and swimmers at Península Valdés, Argentina. Whales were tracked from shore using a theodolite before, during, and after a series of directed interactions with swimmers and a boat. Resting, socializing, and surface active behavior decreased, traveling increased, and whales swam faster and reoriented more often during interactions. Responses were variable by age/sex class, with mother/calf pairs showing strongest responses. Increased levels of tourism activity are a concern, as reduction in resting time and disruption of socialization among adults, juveniles, and mother/calf pairs have unknown long-term consequences. Additional data should be collected for whale behavior in proposed tourism and nontourism areas to build a long-term database which can be used to determine if reactions of whales change over time. Our data suggest that swimming with whales in Chubut Province should not be legalized until further investigations are completed, especially in light of the recent southern right whale die-offs recorded in Península Valdés. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

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