Life History - Frozen Tissue Archive

>Life History Introduction l Strandings l Fishery Observer Program l Blubber Steroid Hormones l Frozen Tissue Archive

The Marine Mammal Life History Frozen Tissue Archive

The life history frozen tissue archive includes samples of skin, blubber, muscle, kidney and liver that are used principally for marine mammal ecological, health, and reproductive studies. The archive started in 1990 with the Southwest Region’s gillnet fishery observer program and expansion of the stranding network to focus on animal health and development of molecular techniques. Over 1,100 specimens representing 26 species of cetaceans and pinnipeds, including all of the small delphinid and pinniped species found off California, are represented in the archive. Two of the coastal delphinids vulnerable to anthropogenic effects within the Southwest Region: the bottlenose dolphin and long-beaked common dolphin, are well represented in this collection.

To date, the collection has been used (1) to compare blubber and muscle characteristics among cetaceans, which extended our understanding of their physiology and diving behavior, (2) to compare contaminant loading geographically for short-beaked common dolphin, (3) to characterize fatty acids to further our understanding of feeding ecology, and (4) to develop molecular techniques for use in life-history studies. We also have on-going collaborations to examine causes of mortality in stranded cetaceans and to document the feeding ecology of northern right whale dolphins off CA. This collection is a valuable source of samples for ecological and health studies of small delphinid species off the coast of California, and for development of molecularly-based tools to expand the use of biopsy-collected specimens from cetaceans sampled in the wild for life-history studies.

The following publications are based on samples obtained from the frozen tissue archive:

Kellar, N. M. 2008. Hormones and blubber: an endocrinological approach for assessing cetacean life-history states in free-ranging populations. PhD thesis, University of California, San Diego, CA.

Kellar, N. M., M. L. Trego, C. I. Marks, and A. E. Dizon. 2006. Determining pregnancy from blubber in three species of delphinids. Marine Mammal Science 22:1-16.

Kellar, N. M., M. L. Trego, C. I. Marks, S. J. Chivers, K. Danil, and F. I. Archer. 2008. Blubber testosterone: A potential marker of male reproductive status in short-beaked common dolphins. Marine Mammal Science. Accepted for publication.

Koopman, H. N. 2001. The structure and function of the blubber of odontocetes. PhD thesis, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Koopman, H. N. 2007. Phylogenetic, ecological, and ontogenetic factors influencing the biochemical structure of the blubber of odontocetes. Marine Biology 151:277–291.

Noren, S. R. 2004. Muscle acid buffering capacities in cetaceans: Influences of diving performance, swimming performance, body size, and postpartum development. Marine Mammal Science 20(4):808-822.

Noren, S. R. 2002. The ontogeny of diving in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). PhD thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA.

Noren, S. R, Williams, T.M., Pabst, D.A., McLellan, B., and Dearolf, J. 2001. The development of diving in marine endotherms: preparing the skeletal muscles of dolphins, penguins, and seals for activity during submergence. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 171:127-134.

Noren, S.R., and Williams, T. M. 2000. Body size and skeletal muscle myoglobin of cetaceans: adaptations for maximizing dive duration. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 126:181-191.

Noren, S. R. 1997. Oxygen stores and acid buffering capacity of cetacean skeletal muscle: A Hierarchy in adaptations for maximum dive durations. Master’s thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA.

Smith, H. R., and Worthy, G. A. J. 2006. Stratification and intra- and inter-specific differences in fatty acid composition of common dolphin (Delphinus sp.) blubber: Implications for dietary analysis. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B-Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 143:486-499.

Smith, H. R. 2002. Fatty acid composition of common dolphin blubber. M.S. thesis, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. 96 pp.

Last modified: 12/24/2014