Home > Explore Data & Reports > Protocols for Conducting Dolphin Capture-Release Health Assessment Studies


Fair, P.A., J.D. Adams, E. Zolman, S.D. McCulloch, J.D. Goldstein, M.E. Murdoch, R. Varela, L. Hansen, F. Townsend, J. Kucklick, C. Bryan, S. Christopher, R. Pugh, and G.D. Bossart. 2006. Protocols for Conducting Dolphin Capture-Release Health Assessment Studies. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 49. Charleston, SC. 83 pp.

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NOAA Technical Memorandum

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The Bottlenose Dolphin Health and Risk Assessment (HERA) Project, initiated in 2003, is a collaborative effort between the National Ocean Service's Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. This comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary research project is designed to assess the health of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in CHS and the IRL. Standardized screening-level assessments are performed to meet project objectives, which include the development of tools and techniques to better assess the health of dolphins, identification of threats to dolphin health and investigation of links to possible environmental stressors. Assessments involve the capture, sampling and release of dolphins. Physical examinations are performed and a suite of non-lethal morphologic and clinicopathologic parameters are measured to develop indices of dolphin health. Dolphin health is being evaluated on individual, population and comparative perspectives at the two distinct geographic locations. To facilitate comparisons and minimize seasonal variability between sites, sampling is conducted during periods of similar water temperatures. In addition to developing links to possible environmental stressors, research goals also include developing a better understanding of the cumulative effects of multiple stressors on dolphin health. Research associated with the Dolphin HERA Project will provide information critical to the preparation of effective management plans.

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