Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New tool to aid in dolphin strandings

Date:
May 1, 2014
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
The cause of dolphin strandings has long been a mystery but a new study shows that clues about survival rates after release may be found in the sea mammal’s blood. The study analyzed blood work and body condition values from stranded common dolphins and compared them with survival rates after release. Responders in the field are now using the blood and health data to make better release decisions and predict survival outcomes. "The establishment of these blood values provides a window into the overall health of the dolphin," said the paper's lead author. "Now we have a way to predict which stranded dolphins have a better chance of survival after release and this can help triage care."

The cause of dolphin strandings has long been a mystery but a new study shows that clues about survival rates after release may be found in the sea mammal's blood.

Related Articles


Published online ahead of print in Marine Mammal Science, the study analyzed blood work and body condition values from stranded common dolphins and compared them with survival rates after release. Responders in the field are now using the blood and health data to make better release decisions and predict survival outcomes.

"The establishment of these blood values provides a window into the overall health of the dolphin and, for responders onsite, collecting blood in the field is relatively easy to do," said Sarah Sharp, the paper's lead author and a third-year D.V.M. candidate at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. "Now we have a way to predict which stranded dolphins have a better chance of survival after release and this can help triage care."

The paper's authors -- including Dr. Joyce Knoll, an associate professor at the Cummings School and Sharp's mentor, and researchers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -- analyzed blood samples and body condition scores of 26 common dolphins that were stranded alive on the beaches of Cape Cod, Mass., between January 2010 and June 2012, and found significant hematological differences between survivors and non-survivors. Since 2010, IFAW has been operating a satellite tagging program to evaluate the post-release success of stranded dolphins, and the authors used this data to assess survival rates.

Dolphins that didn't survive the stranding or a three week post-release period had anemia and lower levels of red blood cells. Some potential causes of anemia in dolphins are chronic disease, poor nutrition, blood loss, pregnancy or liver disease. When compared to survivors, failed dolphins also had an increased concentration of acid in their blood, were dehydrated and had leaner body mass relative to their length. These health indicators and blood values, in addition to necropsy findings, suggest that the dolphins may have had pre-existing illnesses, stranding-induced conditions such as capture myopathy (a metabolic muscle disease resulting from the physical stress of being stranded on land), or both.

"Our team is already utilizing this new information in our stranding response protocols," said Katie Moore, IFAW's Animal Rescue Program Director. "This study is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work for our staff and volunteers. I have no doubt that it will help us to improve our responses and the care of individual animals."

Prior to starting her veterinary studies, Sharp was the stranding coordinator for IFAW's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Program on Cape Cod. During her seven years in the field, she responded to approximately 50 mass stranding events, oversaw response to more than 1,200 individually stranded marine mammals, pioneered IFAW's cetacean satellite tagging program, and trained stranding responders both domestically and internationally. She has experienced the challenges of assessing stranded dolphins' overall health, especially with mass strandings when multiple animals need care.

Sharp participated in the 2012 Student Summer Research Program at Tufts University and her research was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. The John J. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Program provided support for stranding response efforts during the study period, and the Pegasus Foundation and Barbara Birdsey helped fund the IFAW Satellite Tag Program.

Dolphin strandings occur with consistency on Cape Cod, which has one of the highest cetacean stranding rates in the world. Over the 10-year period ending in 2011, common dolphins represented approximately one-third of the 1,300 cetaceans stranded in this area, making this research an invaluable tool in the rapid response and humane care of these mammals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tufts University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah M. Sharp, Joyce S. Knoll, Michael J. Moore, Kathleen M. Moore, Charles T. Harry, Jane M. Hoppe, Misty E. Niemeyer, Ian Robinson, Kathryn S. Rose, W. Brian Sharp, David Rotstein. Hematological, biochemical, and morphological parameters as prognostic indicators for stranded common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A.. Marine Mammal Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/mms.12093

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "New tool to aid in dolphin strandings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501075045.htm>.
Tufts University. (2014, May 1). New tool to aid in dolphin strandings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501075045.htm
Tufts University. "New tool to aid in dolphin strandings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501075045.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins