Cross-Matching of Elasmobranch Blood and a Transfusion Trial within Atlantic Stingrays (Dasyatis americana)
IAAAM Archive
Catherine A. Hadfield1; Ashley N. Haines2; Brent R. Whittaker1
1National Aquarium in Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, USA; 2University of Maryland Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Baltimore, MD, USA


Bite wounds have lead to mortalities in blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris), a sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) and two smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) due to acute hemorrhage and sepsis.1,2,3 Whole blood transfusions are a potential supplement to elasmobranch-adapted isotonic crystalloids and artificial hemoglobin products.

Cross-matching of elasmobranch red blood cells and sera was carried out between nineteen individuals from seven species: sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), sandtiger shark (Carcharhinus taurus), common nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), white-spotted bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum), brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum), zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) and spotted wobbegong (Orectolobus maculatus). Prior to the trial, the authors identified a suitable washing solution and anticoagulant. Red blood cells from a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), and serum from mice inoculated with red blood cells from the common nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) were used as positive controls. No positive cross-matches were seen between individuals of the same species within sandbars, sandtigers and common nurse sharks. Positive cross-matches were seen as hemolysis or agglutination between several of the species, suggesting these would not be suitable as donor-recipient combinations.

A secondary trial involved transfusion of whole blood between five Atlantic stingrays (Dasyatis sabina). Two control animals received an autotransfusion or crystalloids. No adverse reactions were seen.


Thanks need to be given to Dr. Martin Flajnik at the University of Maryland for all his support and advice, and to all the aquarists and medical staff at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.


1.  Whitaker BR, M Giardina, I Walker, A Henningsen. 2003. Intestinal anastamosis and administration of Oxyglobin in an injured smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata). Proc IAAAM 34:227-229

2.  Crow GL, JC Howe, S Uchida, S Kamolnick, MG Wisner, JN Caira. 1990. Protrusion of the valvular intestine through the cloaca in sharks of the family Carcharhinidae. Copeia 1:226-229

3.  Gruber SH 1980. Keeping sharks in captivity. J Aquariculture 1:6-14

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Catherine A. Hadfield