Report on Tursiops Neonate Survivability Workshop
IAAAM 2009
Jay Sweeney1; Michelle Campbell1; Jim McBain2; Judy St. Ledger2; Mark Xitco3; Eric Jensen3; Sam Ridgway3
1Dolphin Quest, Inc., HI, Oahu, USA, and Bermuda; 2Busch Adventure Parks, San Diego, CA, San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL, USA; 3US Navy Marine Mammal Program, San Diego, CA, USA


A workshop was organized including three members of the AMMPA, those accounting for the majority of Tursiops births amongst AMMPA members since 1990. These facilities included Dolphin Quest, Inc. (with facilities on Hawaii, Oahu and Bermuda), Busch Entertainment Parks (with facilities in San Diego, California, San Antonio, Texas and Orlando, Florida) and the US Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, California. These facilities are known to have experienced success in increasing neonate survivorship through husbandry management intervention with neonates for which failure to meet acceptable developmental criteria were observed. Each shared data on neonate survivability during the first 30 days post parturition, as well as participated in an open dialogue on topics relating to experiences in maximizing survivorship during this period of time. Additionally, data provided included survivorship of Tursiops live births through one year of age. For wild dolphin population biologists, the one year threshold marks the survivorship of calves and the point in which study animals are included within the overall population database in long term studies. The three facilities reported an accumulative total of 253 Tursiops births, from 1990 through 2008. Of these, 19, or 7.5%, were stillbirths, leaving a total of 234 live births. Losses after live births within the first 30 days post parturition included 37 neonates, including 14 in the 0-1 day time frame, 9 in the 2-7 day time frame and 14 in the 8-30 day time frame. As expected the causes of mortalities in these time frames were very much related to the critical developmental processes that are occurring in each. Within the 0-1 day time frame, the majority of losses were accountable from trauma (5) and failure to thrive (4). The trauma was primarily resulting from maternal and/or conspecific aggression at or immediately after birth (novelty, threat, submissive displacement). Failure to thrive within this short time frame was considered a result of poor birth condition, e.g., immature neonate. At the 2-7 day time frame, the majority of losses were from failure to thrive (4), this condition resulting primarily from nutritional failure and/or insufficiency. Within the 8-30 day time frame, infection, e.g., bacterial pneumonia in most cases, played the primary cause of mortality (10), presumably resulting from a combination of failure to thrive nutritionally, and associated with this, a poorly developing immune function. All together survivability through the first 30 days of life in this study amounted to a considerable 84% of total live births. Survivability through one year of age included 184 calves in this data set, or 79.5% of total live births.

Speaker Information
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Jay Sweeney
Dolphin Quest, Inc.
Oahu, HI, USA

MAIN : Management : Tursiops Neonate Survivability
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