Effects of Physiological Factors and Seasonal Variations on Hematology and Plasma Biochemistry of Beluga Whales (Delphinapterus leucas) Managed in Pingtung, Taiwan

Abstract: This is the first investigation of physiological baseline values using hematology and plasma biochemical data from managed beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) in Asia. Samples from eight clinically healthy individuals were analyzed and used as reference values for belugas managed in Pingtung, Taiwan. From 2002 to 2013, the effects of season as well as each beluga’s age and gender were evaluated with respect to the hematological and plasma chemical characteristics through a series of linear mixed-effects models. In these fitted models, age was the most influential factor affecting blood analytes of the belugas housed in Taiwan. Many hematology parameters, including packed cell volume, hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, lymphocytes, eosinophils, platelets, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), were significantly higher in juveniles. On the other hand, higher segmented neutrophil and monocyte values were reported in adults than in juveniles. For plasma biochemistry, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase, gamma-glutamyltransferase, creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glucose, blood urea nitrogen, potassium ion, lactate, and fibrinogen values were higher in juveniles than in adults; whereas high levels of albumin, cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine, inorganic phosphorus, sodium ion, chloride ion, and total carbon dioxide (TCO2) were reported in adults. Seasonal variations were observed in mean corpuscular volume, MCH, AST, ALT, cholesterol, some electrolytes, TCO2, and lactate. Among gender-related differences, males had higher values in some red blood cell parameters, liver function indicators, LDH, and plasma iron, while females had higher levels of ESR, triglycerides, and proteins.
Key Words: cetacean, hematology, plasma biochemistry, beluga whale, Delphinapterus leucas
Document Type: Research Article
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.42.4.2016.494
Page Numbers: 494-506

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