Abstract: This study reports comprehensive baseline data for hematology, serum chemistry, and cytology variables in 63 apparently healthy Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting the estuarine waters of Charleston (CHS), South Carolina (SC). Blood and cytology samples were collected from bottlenose dolphins in August 2003 and August 2004 during capture-release health assessment studies. Means, medians, standard deviations, 95% CI, and ranges were calculated for the population's hematology, serum biochemistry, and serum protein electrophoresis parameters. All of the parameters for which a published range was available were close to or within the ranges previously reported. Comparisons by age, gender, and pregnancy status revealed statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) for several hematology and serum chemistry parameters. Blowhole, rectal, and gastric swabs were examined for cytologic abnormalities, utilizing light microscopy. There were no pathologic findings in the samples; however, 4% (2/51) of the dolphins sampled had mild or moderate blowhole inflammation. The prevalence of gastric inflammation was 26% (13/50), and severe gastric inflammation was present in three of the dolphins sampled (6%). The majority of animals with gastric inflammation were male (10/13, 77%). In fact, all cases of severe inflammation occurred in males, and none were present in 2004. These data provide a baseline from which to compare hematological, serum chemistry, and cytological parameters in wild dolphin populations.
Key Words: Bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, hematology, serum chemistry, cytology, Charleston, South Carolina
Document Type: Research article
Page Numbers: 182-195