Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration

Mystic, CT, United States

Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration

Mystic, CT, United States

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Lambourn D.M.,Marine Mammal Investigations | Garner M.,Northwest ZooPath | Ewalt D.,National Veterinary Services Laboratories | Raverty S.,Animal Health Center | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2013

In 1994 a novel Brucella sp., later named B. pinnipedialis, was identified in stranded harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). This Brucella sp. is a potential zoonotic pathogen and is capable of causing disease in domestic animals. Serologic, microbiologic, and pathologic data collected from live captured and stranded harbor seals were used to better describe the epizootiology of B. pinnipedialis in harbor seals from Washington State, USA, in 1994 through 2006. We found no sex predilection in harbor seal exposure or infection with B. pinnipedialis but noted a significant difference in prevalence among age classes, with weaned pups, yearlings, and subadults having highest exposure and infection. The most common postmortem finding in 26 Brucella-positive animals (culture and/or PCR) was verminous pneumonia due to Parafilaroides spp. or Otostrongulus circumlitus. Our data are consistent with exposure to B. pinnipedialis post-weaning, and it is likely that fish or invertebrates and possibly lungworms are involved in the transmission to harbor seals. Brucella pinnipedialis was cultured or detected by PCR from seal salivary gland, lung, urinary bladder, and feces, suggesting that wildlife professionals working with live, infected seals could be exposed to the bacterium via exposure to oral secretions, urine, or feces. Endangered sympatric wildlife species could be exposed to B. pinnipedialis via predation on infected seals or through a common marine fish or invertebrate prey item involved in its transmission. More work is required to elucidate further potential fish or invertebrates that could be involved in the transmission of B. pinnipedialis to harbor seals and better understand the potential risk they could pose to humans or sympatric endangered species who also consume these prey items. © Wildlife Disease Association 2013.


Goldstein T.,Sea For Life | Goldstein T.,University of California at Davis | Gill V.A.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Tuomi P.,Sea For Life | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases | Year: 2011

Northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) abundance has decreased dramatically over portions of southwest Alaska, USA, since the mid-1980s, and this stock is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In contrast, adjacent populations in south central Alaska, USA, and Russia have been stable to increasing during the same period. Sea otters bordering the area classified in the recent decline were live-captured during 2004-2006 at Bering Island, Russia, and the Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska, USA, to evaluate differences in general health and current exposure status to marine and terrestrial pathogens. Although body condition was lower in animals captured at Bering Island, Russia, than it was at Kodiak, USA, clinical pathology values did not reveal differences in general health between the two regions. Low prevalences of antibodies (,5%) were found in Kodiak, USA, and on Bering Island, Russia, to Toxoplasmagondii, Sarcocystis neurona, and Leptospira interrogans. Exposure to phocine herpesvirus-1 was found in both Kodiak, USA (15.2%), and Bering Island, Russia (2.3%). Antibodies to Brucella spp. were found in 28% of the otters tested on Bering Island, Russia, compared with only 2.7% of the samples from Kodiak, USA. Prevalence of exposure to Phocine distemper virus (PDV) was 41% in Kodiak, USA, but 0% on Bering Island, Russia. Archived sera from southwest and south-central Alaska dating back to 1989 were negative for PDV, indicating exposure occurred in sea otters in Kodiak, USA, in recent years. Because PDV can be highly pathogenic in nai{dotless}̈ve and susceptible marine mammal populations, tissues should be examined to explore the contribution of this virusto otter deaths. Our results reveal an increase in exposure to pathogens in sea otters in Kodiak,Alaska, USA, since the 1990s. © Wildlife Disease Association 2011.


Fair P.A.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Romano T.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Schaefer A.M.,Florida Atlantic University | Reif J.S.,Colorado State University | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2013

Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) are ubiquitous, persistent chemical contaminants found in the environment, wildlife, and humans. Despite the widespread occurrence of PFCs, little is known about the impact these contaminants have on the health of wildlife populations. The authors investigated the relationship between PFCs (including ∑perfluorocarboxylates, ∑perfluoroalkyl sulfonates, perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorooctanoic acid, and perfluorodecanoic acid) and the clinocopathologic and immune parameters in a highly exposed population (n=79) of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (mean ∑PFCs=1970ng/ml; range 574-8670ng/ml) sampled from 2003 to 2005 near Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Age-adjusted linear regression models showed statistically significant positive associations between exposure to one or more of the PFC totals and/or individual analytes and the following immunological parameters: absolute numbers of CD2+ T cells, CD4+ helper T cells, CD19+ immature B cells, CD21+ mature B cells, CD2/CD21 ratio, MHCII+ cells, B cell proliferation, serum IgG1, granulocytic, and monocytic phagocytosis. Several PFC analyte groups were also positively associated with serum alanine aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyltransferase, creatinine, phosphorus, amylase, and anion gap and negatively associated with cholesterol levels, creatinine phosphokinase, eosinophils, and monocytes. Based on these relationships, the authors suggest that the PFC concentrations found in Charleston dolphins may have effects on immune, hematopoietic, kidney, and liver function. The results contribute to the emerging data on PFC health effects in this first study to describe associations between PFCs and health parameters in dolphins. © 2013 SETAC.


Bergfelt D.R.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency | Steinetz B.G.,New York University | Dunn J.L.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Atkinson S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 3 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology | Year: 2010

The primary objectives of this study were to validate a canine relaxin RIA for use in otariids and phocids and consider practical applications. For 6 captive Northern fur seal females, serum samples were grouped and examined according to pregnancy (n = 13), post-partum (n = 8) and non-pregnancy (n = 6), and, for 2 captive Northern fur seal males, serum samples were grouped and examined together regardless of age (2 mo-15 yrs, n = 6). Placental tissue was available for examination from one Northern fur seal, Steller sea lion and harbor seal. The validation process involved several steps using an acid-acetone extraction process to isolate a relaxin-containing fraction in pools of serum from each group of fur seals and placental tissue from each seal species. A relaxin-like substance was detected in extracts of pregnant, non-pregnant and male serum and placental tissue in a dose-responsive manner as increasing volumes of respective extracts or amounts of canine relaxin were introduced into the assay. In raw serum samples, mean immuno-reactive relaxin concentrations were higher (P < 0.05) during pregnancy than post-partum and non-pregnancy, and lower (P < 0.05) in male than female fur seals. During pregnancy, mean serum concentrations of relaxin progressively increased (P < 0.05) over Months 4-10 and, in serial samples collected from the same fur seals before and after parturition, mean concentrations were higher (P < 0.06) pre-partum than post-partum. In conclusion, validation of a homologous canine relaxin RIA for use in otariids and phocids resulted in the discovery of a relaxin-like substance in extracted and raw serum and placental tissue from Northern fur seals, a Steller sea lion and harbor seal. Distinctly higher immuno-reactive concentrations during pregnancy indicated the potential for relaxin to serve as a hormonal marker to differentiate between pregnant and non-pregnant or pseudopregnant pinnipeds.


Yordy J.E.,Medical University of South Carolina | Yordy J.E.,U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology | Mollenhauer M.A.,Medical University of South Carolina | Wilson R.M.,Florida State University | And 8 more authors.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2010

Cetaceans are federally protected species that are prone to accumulate complex mixtures of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which individually may exert estrogenic or antiestrogenic effects. In the present study it was assessed whether contaminant mixtures harbored by cetaceans are estrogenic or antiestrogenic using a comparative approach. Interactions of antiestrogenic and estrogenic compounds were first investigated with the E-Screen assay using a mixture of four POPs (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene [4,4'-DDE], trans-nonachlor, and polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] 138 180) prevalent in cetacean blubber. Estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity was determined for the individual compounds and their binary, tertiary, and quaternary combinations. Significantly different responses were observed for the various POP mixtures, including enhanced estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects and antagonistic interactions. These results were then compared to the concentrations and estrogenic/antiestrogenic activity of contaminant mixtures isolated directly from the blubber of 15 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) collected from five U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico locations. The lowest observed effect concentrations (LOECs) determined for 4,4'-DDE (20 μmol/L), PCB 138 (20 μmol/L), PCB 180 (21 μmol/L), and trans-nonachlor (3 μmol/L) in the E-Screen were greater than estimated dolphin blood concentrations. Although estimated blood concentrations were below the LOECs, significant estrogenic activity was detected in diluted dolphin blubber from Cape May, NJ and Bermuda. Positive correlations between blubber estrogenicity and select POP concentrations (σDDTs, σPBDEs, σHCB, σestrogenic PCBs, σestrogenic POPs) were also observed. Collectively, these results suggest that select bottlenose dolphin populations may be exposed to contaminants that act in concert to exert estrogenic effects at biologically relevant concentrations. These observations do not necessarily provide direct evidence of endocrine disruption; however, they may indicate an environmental source of xenoestrogenic exposure warranting future research. © 2010 SETAC.


Robeck T.R.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Steinman K.J.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Montano G.A.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Corporation | Montano G.A.,Texas A&M University | And 8 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2010

Artificial insemination (AI) with liquid-stored spermatozoa and sperm cryopreservation using directional freezing (DF) have been successful in the beluga. This study built on this foundation to develop a deep intra-uterine AI technique with frozen-thawed semen in beluga. Forty-two ejaculates from one male were cryopreserved using DF technology and subsequently used for 10 insemination attempts with seven females. Percentage pre- and post-thaw progressive motility and viability were (mean ± SD) 73.0 ± 12.2, 38.4 ± 8.8, 88.0 ± 0.1, and 59.3 ± 15.7%, respectively. A series of GnRH injections (3 x 250 μg, IV, 1.5 to 2 h apart) were used to induce ovulation, once a growing follicle >2.5 cm in diameter was visualized via trans-abdominal ultrasonography. Artificial insemination was performed at 30.1 ± 3.8 h post-initial GnRH injection with semen deposited in the uterine horn, 92.6 ± 16.2 cm beyond the genital opening using a flexible endoscope. The external cervical os (cEOS) was located beyond a series of 5 to 10 vaginal rings, 44.8 ± 9.3 cm from the external genital opening. The internal bifurcation of the uterus was 27 ± 6.8 cm beyond the cEOS. Ovulation occurred at 8.5 ± 7.6 h post-AI. Two of 10 inseminations (20%) resulted in pregnancy. The first pregnancy resulted in twins; both calves were born 442 d after AI, with one surviving. The second pregnancy is ongoing. These findings represent the first successful application of AI using frozen-thawed semen in beluga, and are important examples of how assisted reproductive technologies can provide tools for the global management of threatened species. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Mazzaro L.M.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Dunn J.L.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2010

The use of satellite tags to monitor pinnipeds in their natural habitats has become a common practice. However, near-continuous long-term observations of the behavior of tagged animals, the process of tag detachment, and regular close examination of the tagging site to detect any development of tag-induced lesions have not been reported. The present study investigated these issues. Dummy satellite tags were glued to two captive male Pacific harbor seals Phoca vitulina richardsi using mesh or no mesh attachment. Tag attachment and animal health and behavior were monitored during the 8 mo attachment period. No tag-associated changes in animal health or behavior were noted until the tags started to loosen a few days before detachment. We found no differences in the strength or length of attachment associated with mesh or no mesh attachment. There was a small area of superficial skin irritation associated with the mesh attachment due to cracked epoxy rubbing against the seal. Although this was a small pilot study, we concluded that the satellite tag attachment and detachment processes were without significant adverse effect, that the tagged seals' behavior was not significantly altered, and that it is likely that these findings will hold true for other small phocid seals. © Inter-Research 2009.


Schmitt T.L.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | St. Aubin D.J.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Schaefer A.M.,Florida Atlantic University | Dunn J.L.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2010

Concentrations of plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, and aldosterone were investigated in three adult beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), held in a large outdoor public aquarium exhibit. The purpose of this study was to evaluate resting concentrations of these hormones and associated diurnal variations with routine interactions and medical procedures. Resting blood samples were collected voluntarily from the ventral fluke veins at predetermined times of the day to evaluate diurnal changes in analyte concentrations. In addition, hematology and serum chemistry analyses were performed to monitor health status and evaluate changes related to physical exam procedures. Analogous sampling was conducted during out-of-water physical examinations and before and after wading-contact sessions (WCS). Baseline stress hormone concentrations (± SD) were as follows: plasma ACTH (8.41 ± 5.8 pg/mL), serum cortisol (1.80 ± 0.71 g/dL), and serum aldosterone (11.42 ± 5.5 pg/mL). Plasma ACTH and cortisol concentrations were consistently higher in early morning than evening, while aldosterone was higher in the evening. All stress-related hormones were significantly elevated during physical examination. Plasma ACTH concentrations were most increased, 5-10-fold, during physical examination, whereas cortisol and aldosterone showed 2-4-fold elevations. Stress response analytes measured during the WCS did not differ significantly from baseline concentrations. © 2010 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.


Erlacher-Reid C.,Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration | Erlacher-Reid C.,University of Florida | Colitz C.M.H.,Aquatic Animal Eye Care | Abrams K.,Veterinary Ophthalmology Services Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2011

A male yearling harp seal (Phoca groenlandica) stranded and was brought to Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration's Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. The seal presented with a bilateral pendular vertical nystagmus, negative menace response, and a positive palpebral response. Ophthalmological examination by slit lamp biomicroscopy revealed perilimbal corneal edema, excessive iridal surface structures, pupils that appeared to be shaped improperly (dyscoria), and suspected cataracts. Attempts to dilate the pupils with both dark-lighted conditions and repeated dosages of 10% phenylephrine and 1% atropine ophthalmic solution in each eye (OU) were unsuccessful. Ocular ultrasonography findings suggested bilateral cataracts with flattened anterior-posterior (A-P) diameter and possible persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous. It is possible that these structural congenital abnormalities could produce further ocular complications for this seal including uveitis, secondary glaucoma, retinal detachment, and/or vitreal hemorrhage in the future. This case demonstrates the importance of a thorough ophthalmological examination in stranded wild animals, especially if their symptoms appear neurological. Copyright 2011 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.


PubMed | Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine : official publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians | Year: 2012

A green moray eel (Gymnothorax funebris) was evaluated for chronic regurgitation. By using flexible endoscopy, the gastrointestinal tract was evaluated and revealed multifocal proliferative gastric masses and an intestinal ulcer. Biopsy specimens revealed gastric mucus gland hyperplasia, intestinal nematodiasis, and mild enteritis. Esophagoscopy and gastroscopy were performed by using a larger endoscope (length, 200 cm). A smaller endoscope (length, 100 cm) facilitated entering the intestinal tract in normograde or retrograde directions. A control eel was also evaluated, and no gross or histologic abnormalities were detected. The case eel was treated with metoclopramide and fenbendazole, responded well to therapy, and regurgitation decreased. A year later, the animal died of unrelated causes. Necropsy revealed coelomic gastric adhesions. The gastric proliferative lesions were associated with degeneration and necrosis of gastric pit mucosa without significant inflammation; etiology was unknown. Gastrointestinal endoscopy proved a useful diagnostic tool for evaluation and biopsy collection in this eel species.

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