Aquatic Animal Health program has busy year

UF’s Aquatic Animal Health program has been involved in several dolphin rescues and other projects in recent months. Below are a few bullets capturing some of these events, which have included collaborations with various state and federal agencies.

  • On Jan. 6, a dolphin calf in New Smyrna Beach was disentangled from monofilament line that was found wrapped around the calf’s mouth, sternum and dorsal fin. Using a modified fishing boat outfitted with a large net, a capture crew was able to successfully disentangle the dolphin and subsequently release the animal back on site. Collaborating agencies on this rescue were National Marine Fisheries Service, Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Service, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, SeaWorld of Florida, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Volusia County, and Marineland. Clinical professor Dr. Craig Pelton of UF operated as lead clinical veterinarian, working with Dr. Mike Walsh, assistant director of the Aquatic Animal Health Program, in the removal of the entanglement. Dr. Stephanie Cassle, an Aquatic Animal Health resident, was in charge of the monitoring the calf’s mother during the procedure. Both animals were released on site.
  • On Feb 10th, a dolphin calf was captured with its mother in Daytona Beach. Collaborating agencies were NMFS, FWC, Hubbs-SeaWorld, SeaWorld, Marineland, Volusia County, and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Walsh functioned as the veterinary team leader and Pelton removed the line material from the calf. The animal’s mother was monitored by Cassle and both animals were released on site. Patrick Thompson provided surgical and sample collection support for the UF AAH veterinary team.
  • *On March 9, the disentanglement of another dolphin occurred in Marco Island with Drs. Walsh and  Cassle and Thompson assisting. This event was completed in partnership with NMFS, FWC, Harbor Branch, Mote Marine, Sea World, and the Marine Patrol. Due to the positioning of the entanglement at the base of the tail flukes and the extensive localized tissue reaction, Walsh organized the use of a local veterinarian with a portable digital radiograph unit to perform diagnostic imaging on site to aid in the decision to release the dolphin on site or bring in into rehabilitation immediately. The animal was satellite tagged, released on site and is now monitored daily. The animal may require further intervention to surgically correct its tail injury.
  • The AAH program is gearing up for two large course offerings that including: SeaVet Clinical Training, an intensive nine-day course designed to teach veterinary medical students and veterinarians issues in marine animal species. The second course offerings will include Diseases of Warmwater Fish, a two-week class designed to provide a variety of instruction in environmental disease of warmwater food fish and aquarium species.
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June 2012

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