[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The adjacency of 2 marine biogeographic regions off Cape Hat-teras, North Carolina (NC), and the proximity of the Gulf Stream result in a high biodiversity of species from northern and southern provinces and from coastal and pelagic habitats. We examined spatiotemporal patterns of marine mammal strandings and evi-dence of human interaction for these strandings along NC shorelines and evaluated whether the spatiotemporal patterns and species diversity of the stranded animals reflected published records of populations in NC waters. During the period of 1997–2008, 1847 stranded animals were documented from 1777 reported events. These animals represented 9 families and 34 species that ranged from tropical delphinids to pagophilic seals. This bio-diversity is higher than levels observed in other regions. Most strandings were of coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) (56%), harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) (14%), and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) (4%). Overall, strandings of northern species peaked in spring. Bottlenose dolphin strand-ings peaked in spring and fall. Al-most half of the strandings, including southern delphinids, occurred north of Cape Hatteras, on only 30% of NC's coastline. Most stranded animals that were positive for human interaction showed evidence of having been en-tangled in fishing gear, particularly bottlenose dolphins, harbor porpoises, short-finned pilot whales (Globicepha-la macrorhynchus), harbor seals, and humpback whales (Megaptera novae-angliae). Spatiotemporal patterns of bottlenose dolphin strandings were similar to ocean gillnet fishing effort. Biodiversity of the animals stranded on the beaches reflected biodiversity in the waters off NC, albeit not always proportional to the relative abundance of species (e.g., Kogia species). Chang-es in the spatiotemporal patterns of strandings can serve as indicators of underlying changes due to anthropo-genic or naturally occurring events in the source populations. Marine biogeographic boundaries are remarkable 1) for the diversity of species that occur as a result of the biogeographically distinct prov-inces on either side of the environ-mental or dispersal discontinuities (e.g., Ekman, 1953; Searles, 1984) and 2) for the long-term infl uences of these boundaries on phylogeog-raphy (e.g., Wares et al., 2001; Ad-ams and Rosel, 2006). Several ma-rine biogeographic boundaries oc-cur along the continental United States, such as at Point Concep-tion, California; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina (NC) (Briggs, 1974; Fautin et al., 2010). The faunal transition zone at Cape Hatteras results from the juxtaposition of warm waters from the northeast-fl owing Gulf Stream and cool waters from the south-fl owing Virginia Current and leads to the occurrence of both temperate
Fishery Bulletin- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 01/2014; 112:1-23. · 1.14 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: abstract : Euthanasia of stranded large whales poses logistic, safety, pharmaceutical, delivery, public relations, and disposal challenges. Reasonable arguments may be made for allowing a stranded whale to expire naturally. However, slow cardiovascular collapse from gravitational effects outside of neutral buoyancy, often combined with severely debilitating conditions, motivate humane efforts to end the animal's suffering. The size of the animal and prevailing environmental conditions often pose safety concerns for stranding personnel, which take priority over other considerations. When considering chemical euthanasia, the size of the animal also necessitates large quantities of euthanasia agents. Drug residues are a concern for relay toxicity to scavengers, particularly for pentobarbital-containing euthanasia solutions. Pentobarbital is also an environmental concern because of its stability and long persistence in aquatic environments. We describe a euthanasia technique for stranded mysticetes using readily available, relatively inexpensive, preanesthetic and anesthetic drugs (midazolam, acepromazine, xylazine) followed by saturated KCl delivered via custom-made needles and a low-cost, basic, pressurized canister. This method provides effective euthanasia while moderating personnel exposure to hazardous situations and minimizing drug residues of concern for relay toxicity.
Journal of wildlife diseases 10/2013; · 1.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blubber has been used for decades to monitor exposure of marine mammals to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). However, little is known about POP variability as a function of blubber depth and across the body of the animal. Remote blubber biopsy sampling (e.g, projectile biopsy) is the most common technique used to acquire samples from free-swimming animals, yet such techniques may result in variable sampling. It is important to understand whether blubber stratification or body location affects POP concentration or the concentration of other important blubber constituents such as fatty acids (FA). To investigate the influence of sampling depth and location on POP concentration, full depth blubber samples were taken from one stranded bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) at six different body sites to assess variation in FA distribution and contaminant storage with body location. Three of the samples from different body locations were separated into histologically distinct layers to examine the effect of blubber depth and body location on POPs and FAs. In this individual, both POPs and FAs were heterogeneous with blubber depth and body location. POP concentrations were significantly greater in ventral (average ΣPBDEs 1350ng/g lipid) and anterior (average ΣPCBs 28700ng/g lipid) body locations and greater in the superficial blubber layer (average ΣPCBs 35500ng/g lipid) when compared to the deep (8390ng/g lipid) and middle (23,700ng/g lipid) layers. Proportionally more dietary FAs were found in dorsal blubber and in middle and deep layers relative to other locations while the reverse was true for biosynthesized FAs. Stratification was further examined in blubber from the same body location in five additional stranded bottlenose dolphins. Although FAs were stratified with blubber depth, lipid-normalized POPs were not significantly different with depth, indicating that POP concentrations can vary in an individual with blubber depth though the direction of POP stratification is not consistent among individuals.
Science of The Total Environment 07/2013; 463-464C:581-588. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Post-mortem examination of dead and live stranded beach-cast pinnipeds and cetaceans for determination of a cause of death provides valuable information for the management, mitigation and prosecution of unintentional and sometimes malicious human impacts, such as vessel collision, fishing gear entanglement and gunshot. Delayed discovery, inaccessibility, logistics, human safety concerns, and weather make these events challenging. Over the past 3 decades, in response to public concern and federal and state or provincial regulations mandating such investigations to inform mitigation efforts, there has been an increasing effort to objectively and systematically investigate these strandings from a diagnostic and forensic perspective. This Theme Section provides basic investigative methods, and case definitions for each of the more commonly recognized case presentations of human interactions in pinnipeds and cetaceans. Wild animals are often adversely affected by factors such as parasitism, anthropogenic contaminants, biotoxins, subclinical microbial infections and competing habitat uses, such as prey depletion and elevated background and episodic noise. Understanding the potential contribution of these subclinical factors in predisposing or contributing to a particular case of trauma of human origin is hampered, especially where putrefaction is significant and resources as well as expertise are limited. These case criteria descriptions attempt to acknowledge those confounding factors to enable an appreciation of the significance of the observed human-derived trauma in that broader context where possible.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 04/2013; 103(3):229-64. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most marine mammals are hypothesized to routinely dive within their aerobic dive limit (ADL). Mammals that regularly perform deep, long-duration dives have locomotor muscles with elevated myoglobin concentrations and are composed of predominantly large, slow-twitch (Type I) fibers with low mitochondrial volume densities (V(mt)). These features contribute to extending ADL by increasing oxygen stores and decreasing metabolic rate. Recent tagging studies, however, have challenged the view that two groups of extreme deep-diving cetaceans dive within their ADLs. Beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris, Cuvier and Mesoplodon densirostris, Blainville) routinely perform the deepest and longest average dives of any air-breathing vertebrate, and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus, Gray) perform high-speed sprints at depth. We investigated the locomotor muscle morphology and estimated total body oxygen stores of these cetaceans to determine whether they (a) shared muscle design features with other deep-divers and (b) performed dives within their calculated ADLs. Muscle of both cetaceans displayed high myoglobin concentrations and large fibers, as predicted, but novel fiber profiles for diving mammals. Beaked whales possessed a sprinter's fiber-type profile, composed of approximately 80% fast-twitch (Type II) fibers with low V(mt). Approximately one-third of the muscle fibers of short-finned pilot whales were slow-twitch, oxidative, glycolytic fibers, a rare fiber-type for any mammal. The muscle morphology of beaked whales likely decreases the energetic cost of diving, while that of short-finned pilot whales supports high activity events. Calculated ADLs indicate that, at low metabolic rates, both cetaceans carry sufficient onboard oxygen to aerobically support their dives.
Journal of Experimental Biology 02/2013; · 3.24 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electronic tags have proven to be valuable tools in assessing small cetacean move-ment and behavior. However, problems associated with tag size and attachment have limited duration and damaged dorsal fins. These outcomes have motivated research-ers to develop a new satellite-linked tag design that reduces detrimental effects to tagged animals, while increasing transmission durations. The goals of this study were to review previous studies that deployed single-pin transmitters and determine factors that influence transmission duration. Then, test these factors utilizing com-putational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to identify an optimal single-pin satellite-linked tag design, and evaluate this prototype through field studies. A review of four projects, which deployed 77 single-pin radio tags, determined that tags attached along the lower third of the dorsal fin and approximately 33 mm from the trailing edge resulted in longer transmission durations and reduced negative impacts to the 1
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The health of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) within south-ern Georgia estuaries is of particular concern due to high levels of anthropo-genic contaminants in their tissues. Dolphins in this region have the highest 1 Corresponding author (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 1. Under US policy, a stock is a group of animals shown to be demographically independent from other such groups. Evidence of demographic delineations for marine mammal stocks is gained primarily through genetic analysis. However, additional techniques play an important role in determining fine-scale ranging patterns that can be used to define a stock's geographic boundaries. In cases where genetic studies have not yet been performed, movement and ranging pattern data are essential in identifying a targeted geographic region for tissue sampling and genetic studies. 2. Photo-identification surveys, vessel-based radio telemetry, automated radio telemetry systems (ARTS), and satellite-linked telemetry are sampling techniques that have been used to determine common bottlenose dolphin ranging patterns and provide detailed insight into stock boundaries. The results of near simultaneous use of these sampling techniques are compared using data from a case study of bottlenose dolphins within the estuaries of southern Georgia. 3. Satellite-linked and radio telemetry were determined to be useful sampling techniques for identification of short-term ranging patterns. Satellite-linked telemetry had the second lowest cost per location ($122) and identified dolphin ranging patterns within and outside of the study area boundaries. Vessel-based radio telemetry was more costly ($195 per location) and had relatively limited tracking coverage. However, this sampling technique permitted visual observations of animal and tag condition. The combination of vessel-based radio telemetry and ARTS, which had the lowest cost per location ($34), was an effective method for determining ranging patterns of tagged individuals within and outside of the study area. 4. Photo-identification surveys, relative to satellite-linked and radio telemetry, were not as efficient for determination of targeted individuals' short-term ranging patterns and had the highest cost per location of the four sampling techniques ($292). However, photo-identification is more effective than any other technique for compiling data on large numbers of individuals within a designated study area. Photo-identification surveys are essential for long-term monitoring and provide additional insight into dolphin stock structure that cannot be determined through telemetry alone.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: United States and Canadian governments have responded to legal requirements to reduce human-induced whale mortality via vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear by implementing a suite of regulatory actions. We analyzed the spatial and temporal patterns of mortality of large whales in the Northwest Atlantic (23.5°N to 48.0°N), 1970 through 2009, in the context of management changes. We used a multinomial logistic model fitted by maximum likelihood to detect trends in cause-specific mortalities with time. We compared the number of human-caused mortalities with U.S. federally established levels of potential biological removal (i.e., species-specific sustainable human-caused mortality). From 1970 through 2009, 1762 mortalities (all known) and serious injuries (likely fatal) involved 8 species of large whales. We determined cause of death for 43% of all mortalities; of those, 67% (502) resulted from human interactions. Entanglement in fishing gear was the primary cause of death across all species (n= 323), followed by natural causes (n= 248) and vessel strikes (n= 171). Established sustainable levels of mortality were consistently exceeded in 2 species by up to 650%. Probabilities of entanglement and vessel-strike mortality increased significantly from 1990 through 2009. There was no significant change in the local intensity of all or vessel-strike mortalities before and after 2003, the year after which numerous mitigation efforts were enacted. So far, regulatory efforts have not reduced the lethal effects of human activities to large whales on a population-range basis, although we do not exclude the possibility of success of targeted measures for specific local habitats that were not within the resolution of our analyses. It is unclear how shortfalls in management design or compliance relate to our findings. Analyses such as the one we conducted are crucial in critically evaluating wildlife-management decisions. The results of these analyses can provide managers with direction for modifying regulated measures and can be applied globally to mortality-driven conservation issues.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blubber, the specialized hypodermis of cetaceans, provides thermal insulation through the quantity and quality of lipids it contains. Quality refers to % lipid content; however, not all lipids are the same. Certain deep-diving cetacean groups possess blubber with lipids - wax esters (WE) - that are not typically found in mammals, and the insulative quality of "waxy" blubber is unknown. Our study explored the influence of lipid storage class - specifically WE in pygmy sperm whales (Kogia breviceps; n=7) and typical mammalian triacylglycerols (TAG) in short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus; n=7) - on blubber's thermal properties. Although the blubber of both species had similar total lipid contents, the thermal conductivity of G. macrorhynchus blubber (0.20 ± 0.01 Wm-1°C-1) was significantly higher than that of K. breviceps (0.15 ± 0.01 Wm-1°C-1; P=0.0006). These results suggest that lipid class significantly influences blubber's ability to resist heat flow. In addition, because blubber's lipid content is known to be stratified, we measured its depth-specific thermal conductivities. In K. breviceps blubber, the depth-specific conductivity values tended to vary inversely with lipid content. In contrast, G. macrorhynchus blubber displayed unexpected depth-specific relationships between lipid content and conductivity, which suggests that temperature-dependent effects, such as melting, may be occurring. Differences in heat flux measurements across the depth of the blubber samples provide evidence that both species are capable of storing heat in their blubber. The function of blubber as an insulator is complex and may rely upon its lipid class, stratified composition, and dynamic heat storage capabilities.
Journal of Experimental Biology 09/2012; · 3.24 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the scenarios whereby fishing gear entanglement of large whales induces mortality is important for the development of mitigation strategies. Here we present a series of 21 cases involving 4 species of baleen whales in the NW Atlantic, describing the available sighting history, necropsy observations, and subsequent data analyses that enabled the compilation of the manners in which entanglement can be lethal. The single acute cause of entanglement mortality identified was drowning from entanglement involving multiple body parts, with the animal's inability to surface. More protracted causes of death included impaired foraging during entanglement, resulting in starvation after many months; systemic infection arising from open, unresolved entanglement wounds; and hemorrhage or debilitation due to severe gear-related damage to tissues. Serious gear-induced injury can include laceration of large vessels, occlusion of the nares, embedding of line in growing bone, and massive periosteal proliferation of new bone in an attempt to wall off constricting, encircling lines. These data show that baleen whale entanglement is not only a major issue for the conservation of some baleen whale populations, but is also a major concern for the welfare of each affected individual.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 10/2011; 96(3):175-85. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are apex predators in coastal southeastern U.S. waters; as such they are indicators of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in coastal ecosystems. POP concentrations measured in a dolphin's blubber are influenced by a number of factors, including the animal's sex and ranging pattern in relation to POP point sources. This study examined POP concentrations measured in bottlenose dolphin blubber samples (n=102) from the Georgia, USA coast in relation to individual ranging patterns and specifically, distance of sightings from a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) point source near Brunswick, Georgia. Dolphin ranging patterns were determined based upon 5years of photo-identification data from two field sites approximately 40km apart: (1) the Brunswick field site, which included the Turtle/Brunswick River Estuary (TBRE), and (2) the Sapelo field site, which included the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR). Dolphins were categorized into one of three ranging patterns from photo-identification data. Individuals with sighting histories exclusively within one of the defined field sites were considered to have either Brunswick or Sapelo ranging patterns. Individuals sighted in both field sites were classified as having a Mixed ranging pattern. Brunswick males had the highest concentrations of PCBs reported for any marine mammal. The pattern of PCB congeners was consistent with Aroclor 1268, a highly chlorinated PCB mixture associated with a Superfund site in Brunswick. PCB levels in Sapelo males were lower than in Brunswick males, but comparable to the highest levels measured in other dolphin populations along the southeastern U.S. Female dolphins had higher Aroclor 1268 proportions than males, suggesting that the highly chlorinated congeners associated with Aroclor 1268 may not be offloaded through parturition and lactation, as easily as less halogenated POPs. Individuals sighted farther from the Superfund point source had lower Aroclor 1268 proportions.
Science of The Total Environment 02/2011; 409(11):2094-101. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electronic tags using the ARGOS system (CLS, 2008) have proven to be valuable tools in assess-ing small cetacean movement patterns and habitat use (e.g., Read & Westgate, 1997; Corkeron & Martin, 2004; Klatsky et al., 2007; Balmer et al., 2008; Wells et al., 2008, 2009). While tag design and success rates have varied, problems associ-ated with package size, attachment position on the dorsal fin, and number of attachment pins have, in some cases, shortened the predicted attachment duration or caused adverse impacts to the dorsal fins of the animals (Read & Westgate, 1997; Scott et al., 1990; Balmer et al., 2010). One of the most recent iterations in the evolution of smaller sat-ellite-linked tags for dolphins used a 65 g, side-mounted tag, which attached to the upper third of the dorsal fin with three plastic pins (Balmer et al., 2010). This tag design has been used to determine movement patterns and dive durations in sev-eral species of small cetaceans, including bottle-nose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off Bermuda (Klatsky et al., 2007), Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus) in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean (Wells et al., 2009; R. Wells, pers. obs.), rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) in the Atlantic Ocean (Wells et al., 2008; R. Wells, pers. obs.), and Franciscana dolphins (Pontoporia blain-villei) in the Atlantic coastal waters off Argentina (R. Wells, pers. obs.). While this tag design appears to be relatively robust, a recent deployment of the tag demonstrated that the design is not well-suited
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The understanding of a species' niche is fundamental to the concept of ecology, yet rela-tively little work has been done on niches in pelagic marine mammal communities. Data collection on the distribution and abundance of marine mammals is costly, time consuming and complicated by logis-tical difficulties. Here we take advantage of a data archive comprising many different datasets on the dis-tribution and abundance of cetaceans from Nova Scotia through the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to un-cover community structure at large spatial scales (1000s of km). We constructed a multivariate ordination of the species data, tested for group structure that might exist within the ordination space, and deter-mined how these groups might differ in environmental space. We examined 3 biogeographic regions: the oceanic waters north and south of Cape Hatteras, NC, and the Gulf of Mexico. North of Hatteras, we found 2 main groups split along a temperature and chlorophyll gradient, with most piscivores being found in cooler, more productive waters of the continental shelf, and most teuthivores being found far-ther offshore in warmer, less productive waters at the shelf break (200 m isobath). South of Hatteras, we found 3 groups, with the largest group being in warmer, lower chlorophyll waters that are closest to shore. In the Gulf of Mexico, we found 7 groups arrayed along a bottom depth gradient. We also tested the effect of taxonomically lumping different beaked whale species on ordination results. Results showed that when beaked whales were identified to the species level, they clustered out into distinct niches that are separate from those of other Odontocete groups. These results add to an increasing understanding of wildlife habitat associations and niche partitionings in the community structure of pelagic species, and provide important baseline information for future population monitoring efforts.
Marine Ecology Progress Series 01/2011; 434:165-181. · 2.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shallow-diving, coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and deep-diving, pelagic pygmy and dwarf sperm whales (Kogia breviceps and K. sima) will experience vastly different ambient pressures at depth, which will influence the volume of air within their lungs and potentially the degree of thoracic collapse they experience. This study tested the hypotheses that lung size will be reduced and/or thoracic mobility will be enhanced in deeper divers. Lung mass (T. truncatus, n = 106; kogiids, n = 18) and lung volume (T. truncatus, n = 5; kogiids, n = 4), relative to total body mass, were compared. One T. truncatus and one K. sima were cross-sectioned to calculate lung, thoracic vasculature, and other organ volumes. Excised thoraxes (T. truncatus, n = 3; kogiids, n = 4) were mechanically manipulated to compare changes in thoracic cavity shape and volume. Kogiid lungs were half the mass and one-fifth the volume of those of similarly sized T. truncatus. The lungs occupied only 15% of the total thoracic cavity volume in K. sima and 37% in T. truncatus. The kogiid and dolphin thoraxes underwent similar changes in shape and volume, although the width of the thoracic inlet was relatively constrained in kogiids. A broader phylogenetic comparison demonstrated that the ratio of lung mass to total body mass in kogiids, physeterids, and ziphiids was similar to that of terrestrial mammals, while delphinids and phocoenids possessed relatively large lungs. Thus, small lung size in deep-diving odontocetes may be a plesiomorphic character. The relatively large lung size of delphinids and phocoenids appears to be a derived condition that may permit the lung to function as a site of respiratory gas exchange throughout a dive in these rapid breathing, short-duration, shallow divers.
Journal of Morphology 06/2010; 271(6):654-73. · 1.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most exposure assessments for free-ranging cetaceans focus on contaminant concentrations measured in blubber, and few data are available for other tissues or the factors governing contaminant distribution among tissues. The goal of this study was to provide a detailed description of the distribution of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) within the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) body and assess the role of lipid dynamics in mediating contaminant distribution. Thirteen tissues (brain, blubber, heart, liver, lung, kidney, mammary gland, melon, skeletal muscle, spleen, thyroid, thymus, and testis/uterus) were sampled during necropsy from bottlenose dolphins (n = 4) and analyzed for lipid and 85 POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Significant correlations between tissue POP concentrations and lipid suggest that distribution of POPs is generally related to tissue lipid content. However, blubber:tissue partition coefficients ranged widely from 0.753 to 6.25, suggesting that contaminant distribution is not entirely lipid-dependent. Tissue-specific and whole-body contaminant burdens confirmed that blubber, the primary site of metabolic lipid storage, is also the primary site for POP accumulation, contributing >90% to the whole-body burdens. Observations also suggest that as lipid mobilizes from blubber, contaminants may redistribute, leading to elevated tissue concentrations. These results suggest that individuals with reduced blubber lipid may be at increased risk for exposure-related health effects. However, this study also provides evidence that the melon, a metabolically inert lipid-rich structure, may serve as an alternate depot for POPs, thus preventing the bulk of blubber contaminants from being directly available to other tissues. This unique physiological adaptation should be taken into consideration when assessing contaminant-related health effects in wild cetacean populations.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 06/2010; 29(6):1263-73. · 2.62 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) the thickness and lipid content of blubber (the integument's specialized hypodermis) varies across ontogeny and with reproductive and nutritional state. Because the integument comprises up to 25% of total body mass in this species, ontogenetic changes in its lipid content may influence whole body buoyancy. The density and volume of the integument were measured and its buoyancy calculated across an ontogenetic series of dolphins and in pregnant and emaciated adults (total n= 45). Regional differences between the metabolically labile trunk integument and the structural tailstock integument were also investigated. Mean densities of both trunk and tailstock integument were similar across life history categories (trunk = 1,040.7 ± 14.1 kg/m3; tailstock = 1,077.1 ± 21.2 kg/m3) and were statistically similar to the density of seawater (1,026 kg/m3). The mean buoyant force of integument from the trunk (−1.01 ± 1.74 N) and tailstock (−0.30 ± 0.21 N) did not vary significantly across ontogeny. In contrast, pregnancy and emaciation did influence the integument's buoyancy, which ranged between 9 N and −45 N in these categories. Although neutral during growth, the integument's contribution to whole body buoyancy can be influenced by an individual's reproductive and nutritional status.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The temperature differential (ΔT) between a body surface and the environment influences an organism's heat balance. In Sarasota Bay, FL, where ambient water temperature (Tw) ranges annually from 11° to 33°C, ΔT was investigated in a resident community of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Dorsal fin surface temperatures (Tdfin) were measured on wild, free-swimming dolphins using infrared thermography. Field and laboratory calibration studies were also undertaken to assess the efficacy of this non-invasive technology in the marine environment. The portability of infrared thermography permitted measurements of Tdfin across the entire range of environmental temperatures experienced by animals in this region. Results indicated a positive, linear relationship between Tdfin and Tw (r2= 0.978, P < 0.001). On average, Tdfin was 0.9°C warmer than Tw across seasons, despite the 22°C annual range in Tw. Changes in integumentary and vascular insulation likely account for the stability of ΔTdfin − w and the protection of core temperature (Tcore) across seasons. The high thermal conductivity of water may also influence this ΔT. The use of infrared thermography is an effective, non-invasive method of assessing dorsal fin skin surface temperatures (±1°C) across large numbers of wild, free-swimming dolphins throughout their thermally dynamic aquatic environment.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lacazia loboi, a cutaneous fungus, is found in humans and dolphins from transitional tropical (Florida) and tropical (South America) regions. We report 2 cases of lobomycosis in stranded bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and 1 case of lobomycosis-like disease in 1 free-swimming, pelagic, offshore bottlenose dolphin from North Carolina, where no cases have previously been observed.