Since its inception in 1972, computerized tomography has revolutionized the ability to diagnose, treat, and monitor injuries and pathology in humans. Computerized tomography (CT) involves serial, radiological, cross-sectional scans, resulting in detailed, three-dimensional images of internal anatomy (Wellington & Vinegar, 1987). This tool was adopted for use in domestic veterinary medicine in 1989 and later utilized in post-mortem assessments of wild, stranded cetaceans (Schwarz & Saunders, 2011). In 2004, the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program conducted the first live dolphin CT scans to provide insight into cranial anatomy (Houser et al., 2004).
Alfonz - It's business as usual this month for the big man on campus! Alfonz has stayed busy meeting guests from all over the country, playing games with his trainers, and of course... flirting with the ladies! This month, we were able to get a true "weight" on Alfonz for the first time in over 3 years thanks to our brand new dolphin scale. Alfonz weighed in at an impressive 517 pounds, maintaining his title of "biggest dolphin" at DPMMR.
The four pillars of DPMMR include Animal Care, Education and Outreach, Scientific Investigation, and Rescue and Rehabilitation. While all four pillars are critical to our Connect to Protect mission, one of the most important is Animal Care, which for us simply means providing the absolute best care and welfare for the dolphins that reside at our facility and depend on us.
This month’s Research Update highlights our book chapter Learning about Dolphins: An Era of Discovery in Managed Care, published in the Scientific Foundation of Zoos and Aquariums: Their Role in Conservation and Research. Zoos and aquariums have evolved from relatively rudimentary displays to reputable research and conservation organizations. Most modern zoological facilities conduct and facilitate basic and applied research, and many of these investigations cross disciplines, involve innovative technologies, and contribute to global conservation efforts. As the most abundant marine mammal species in managed care, bottlenose dolphins have been studied extensively, garnering groundbreaking discoveries that otherwise would have been impossible to ascertain in the wild. These include, but are not limited to, a compelling understanding of calf development, maternal care, social behavior, cognition, bioacoustics, sensory systems, diving physiology, toxicology, immunology, health, disease, and reproductive biology. In an era of global habitat degradation and increasing human pressure on ocean resources and ecosystems, research conducted at marine mammal facilities has become critical to our understanding of how these animals may respond to an ever-changing environment.