April 20, 2024

Effects of Remote Biopsy Sampling on Long-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melas) in Nova Scotia


Katie A. Kowarski, Joana F. Augusto, Timothy R. Frasier, and Hal Whitehead


Abstract: A long-term photo-identification study on long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) off Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, expanded to include remote biopsy sampling via crossbow in 2010 to 2012. The present study aims to investigate any negative effects biopsy sampling may have on the animals. During sampling, each shot was videotaped for later analysis. We ranked the reaction of the target individual on a standard scale, where 1 was no response, 2 was a low-level response, 3 was a moderate response, and 4 was a strong response. Additionally, in the 2012 field season, we recorded group behaviour before and after sampling and opportunistically observed wound healing. Short-term responses to sampling were mostly low level, with no strong responses observed. Sampling did not change group behaviour any more than was normally observed from non-biopsy vessels, and the pilot whales were regularly re-approached by vessels post-sampling without difficulty. Wounds were found to close as early as 4 d post-sampling and showed no evidence to indicate infection or other problems with healing. This study found no indication that remote biopsy sampling has detrimental effects on long-finned pilot whales in Nova Scotia and, thus, is a viable and ethical technique for obtaining samples from this population.
Key Words: remote biopsy sampling, long-finned pilot whale, Globicephala melas
Document Type: Research article
DOI: 10.1578/AM.40.2.2014.117
Page Numbers: 117-125

Info SKU: Vol__40__Iss__2__Kowarski Category: