Differential Hematology Profiles of Free-Ranging, Rehabilitated, and Captive Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) of the German North Sea

Abstract: The hematology profile is an established tool to monitor health status and to help detect emerging diseases in animals. Knowledge of normal ranges is required, however, to evaluate blood results (e.g., WBC, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, hemoglobin). Differential hematology profiles of three harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) groups (free-ranging animals, rehabilitated pups, and captive seals at the Seal Center Friedrichskoog), collected between 1997 and 2004, were compared. The three different groups are representative of the population of harbor seals in the German North Sea. Results indicated that these groups differed significantly from one another in their hematology profiles, thus data were re-examined with respect to hematology profile variation according to location (i.e., wild, rehabilitated, captive), age (i.e., pups, yearlings, adults), and season (i.e., spring, summer, autumn). This represents the first time that a large number of hematology profile results (n = 793) were collected from three groups of a single population, resulting in the establishment of baseline values (5 and 95 percentiles, median). This study is an important contribution to the understanding and assessment of the health status of harbor seals.

Key Words: captive, free-ranging, harbor seal, hematology, rehabilitation, Phoca vitulina

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.34.2.2008.149

Page Numbers: 149-156

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