16 Sarasota Bay dolphins, including 4 for the first-time, were captured, examined by veterinarians, and released during May 16-20, 2012. Data from this work will be shared across more than 25 projects, among researchers from national and international universities and federal and state agencies.
Preliminary results from veterinary examinations and sample analyses suggest that the dolphins generally are in good condition. They appear to be in better health than those dolphins sampled in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, in August 2011.
The health of the Sarasota Bay dolphin population is a benchmark against which to compare effects on bottlenose dolphins of large-scale environmental events, such as the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill in Louisana, environmental pollution from industrial sites, or harmful algal blooms.
Nellie was fully examined for the first time, and she was found to be in good health and body condition. In 2010, as a 9-month-old calf, she was rescued and disentangled from life-threatening line.
Perry, a 23-year-old male, weighed 660 lbs (300 kg, 2 kg less than his 2010 weight record for a Sarasota dolphin), and his 19-year-old male alliance partner Pednotches, weighed in at 422 lbs (192 kg). These males had the highest testosterone concentrations of any adult males measured this summer. They were on a “date” with 16-year-old Lizzie (and her 2-year-old son), and have been seen with a variety of presumed receptive females since their release.
As part of research to determine the potential impact of new and improved electronic tags on dolphins, 10 dolphins were tagged with real or “dummy” satellite-linked transmitters. These dolphins are being closely monitored, and we plan to re-capture them in several months to remove the tags and evaluate the condition of both tags and dolphins. The new tag design resulted from computational flow dynamics research that determined how best to reduce drag.
The health assessment team totaled 110 researchers, veterinarians, students, and dolphin handlers, with as many as 80 participating each day.
They came from as far away as Brazil, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, Scotland, England, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Guatemala, and Trinidad/Tobago. Most of our foreign colleagues were learning about techniques to take back for conservation work in their home country.
A total of 19 veterinarians cycled though during the health assessments from multiple universities, agencies, and organizations.
The health assessments were primarily funded by Dolphin Quest, and the Office of Naval Research, and they were conducted under a scientific research permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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