Marine Health Programs in Australia: A History of Aquatic Animal Veterinarians
Australia is the world's largest island. In area it is comparable to the continental United States or similar in extent to Alaska. The aquatic fauna is very diverse from molluscs through to the largest cetaceans. Veterinarians have been noticeably involved with the care of our aquatic fauna for the last 50 years. Prior to that time, and for a long period after, the work was carried out by zoologists and Government personnel.
Since 1964, there has been more veterinary activity due to an increase in clinical work and research. The culmination of veterinary input has occurred following the introduction of Animal Ethics Committees in the late 1990s.
Because Australia has a huge coastline (over 30,000 km [19,000 miles]), there is a lot of coast for whales to aim at for stranding. Most mass strandings are odontocetes, providing a challenge for attending veterinarians, other scientists and officials.
The advent of the aquaculture industries has seen a further increase in veterinary input.
There has also been a big increase in the research effort at the various universities and the Australian Antarctic Division, allowing many young veterinarians to undertake aquatic animal research.
There have been over 100 veterinarians involved with aquatic animals in Australia, with some individuals standing out from the rest in different disciplines.
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