Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario Ballena Franca Austral

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario Ballena Franca Austral

Puerto Madryn, 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.


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.


PubMed | University of Utah, University of Buenos Aires, University of California at Davis, Programa de Monitoreo Sanitario Ballena Franca Austral and National University of Cordoba
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

At least 626 southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) calves died at the Pennsula Valds 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 Valds. 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 Jos in the 2000s. The number and area of lesions increased with calf age during the calving season. Intensified Kelp Gull harassment at Pennsula Valds 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.


Seger J.,University of Utah | Smith W.A.,University of Utah | Perry J.J.,University of Utah | Hunn J.,University of Utah | And 7 more authors.
Genetics | Year: 2010

Neutral nucleotide diversity does not scale with population size as expected, and this "paradox of variation" is especially severe for animal mitochondria. Adaptive selective sweeps are often proposed as a major cause, but a plausible alternative is selection against large numbers of weakly deleterious mutations subject to Hill-Robertson interference. The mitochondrial genealogies of several species of whale lice (Amphipoda: Cyamus) are consistently too short relative to neutral-theory expectations, and they are also distorted in shape (branch-length proportions) and topology (relative sister-clade sizes). This pattern is not easily explained by adaptive sweeps or demographic history, but it can be reproduced in models of interference among forward and back mutations at large numbers of sites on a nonrecombining chromosome. A coalescent simulation algorithm was used to study this model over a wide range of parameter values. The genealogical distortions are all maximized when the selection coefficients are of critical intermediate sizes, such that Muller's ratchet begins to turn. In this regime, linked neutral nucleotide diversity becomes nearly insensitive to N. Mutations of this size dominate the dynamics even if there are also large numbers of more strongly and more weakly selected sites in the genome. A genealogical perspective on Hill-Robertson interference leads directly to a generalized background-selection model in which the effective population size is progressively reduced going back in time from the present. Copyright © 2010 by the Genetics Society of America.

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