2014 California Marine Mammal Stranding Network Meeting List of Abstracts




Recent stranding numbers and patterns of the southern sea otter



An attempt is made to verify and recover all stranded sea otters in California.340 stranded sea otters were documented in 2013 – the second highest annual number following last year’s 368. White shark bite has been the leading cause of known sea otter mortality over the last several years and 2013 was no exception. It is becoming increasingly likely that shark bites are limiting sea otter range expansion. Range expansion is believed to be necessary for the southern sea otter population to grow. Recent stranding patterns and numbers will be presented, emphasizing shark –bitten sea otters. Recent strandings and live sightings of sea otters along or off southern California shores will also be presented.


Live sea otter stranding response in California: contributing to research and population recovery

KarlMayer1, Dr. MikeMurray1, Andrew Johnson1

1Monterey Bay Aquarium

Live sea otter stranding response in California is coordinated through the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program, with significant involvement from The Marine Mammal Center, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Geological Survey, with oversight by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our current caseload decision-making model considers research value, value to the population, and potential for permanent captive placement when determining disposition of individual sea otters. Regardless of disposition, however, all live-stranded southern sea otters contribute to population recovery-based research. The southern sea otter currently occupies a range extending from Pigeon Pt. (San Mateo County) in the north to Gaviota State Beach (Santa Barbara County) in the south (USGS, 2013 census data);however, individual sea otters are routinely sighted well beyond range limits.Live-strandings in recent years at Jalama State Beach and Guadelupe Dunes, and the potential for continued population expansion to the south, have highlighted a present and future need for development of stranding response capabilities in Santa Barbara and other southern California counties. In this talk, we will discuss recent trends in causes and demographics of live-stranded cases,highlight on-going research involving live-stranded sea otters, and outline what we feel are important parameters (facilities, training, veterinary support) for expanding participation in sea otter stranding response at the southern end of the range. 2

Leptospirosis in California sea lions(Zalophus californianus): Do data from stranded animals accurately reflect trends in the wild population?

Prager,Katherine1,2,3; Alt, David4; Buhnerkempe,Michael1,2; DeLong, Robert5; Fontaine,Christine3; Galloway,Renne6; Greig, Denise3; Guarasci,Sophie3; Gulland,Frances3; Harris, Jeff5; Johnson, Shawn3; Melin, Sharon5; Norris, Tenaya3; Orr, Anthony5; Rust, Lauren3; Wu, Qinzhong7; Zuerner,Richard4; Lloyd-Smith,James1,2

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

2Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health

3The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, California 94965, USA

4 Infectious Bacterial Diseases Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Ames, Iowa50010, USA

5 National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center/NOAA, Seattle, Washington98115, USA

6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA

7 Hollings Marine Laboratory, National Ocean Services, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA

Since 1970, periodic outbreaks of leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira interrogansserovar Pomona, have caused morbidity and mortality of California sea lions(Zalophus californianus) along the Pacific coast of North America. The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) has treated and collected data from sea lions stranding along the California coast, and leptospirosis has been a dominant cause of strandings. Mortality in sea lions stranding with leptospirosis is high despite treatment, only ~30% survive to release, and little is known about Leptospira dynamics in the free-ranging population. Since 2010 we have collected data on Leptospira exposure and infection from free-ranging sea lions, both within (Año Nuevo Island: ANI; n=145) and to the south (San Miguel Island: SMI; n=151) of the TMMC stranding range, to determine whether prevalence patterns observed in sea lions at TMMC (n=254) accurately reflect those in the overall population.We assessed evidence of exposure using microscopic agglutination testing foranti-Leptospira antibodies in sera, and active infection and shedding of leptospires in the urine using both PCR and culture. Yearly antibody seroprevalence in stranded sea lions at TMMC ranged from 0.15-0.67. During this same time period, temporal changes of sero prevalence from ANI sea lions (range0.07-0.49) tracked those seen in stranded sea lions, while sero prevalences from SMI sea lions (range 0-0.03) were significantly lower than those seen in either SMI or stranded populations and showed little variation. Active infection was detected on both ANI (prevalence range 0.12-0.57 from 2010-2012) and SMI(prevalence range 0-0.16 from 2011-2012); however, serum chemistry analysis and clinical examination showed no evidence of kidney disease, indicating subclinical infections. Our results suggest that patterns of exposure seen in sea lions stranding within the TMMC range reflect those seen in the free-ranging ANI population, but not those seen in the SMI population, which is south of the TMMC range.


Marine Mammal Health Map: Goals and Vision

Frances Gulland Vet MB, MRCVS, PhD; Claire Simeone, DVM; Tenaya Norris, MS; LaurenPalmer, DVM; Judy St. Leger, DVM, DACVP; Kerri Danil MS

The goal of the Marine Mammal Health Map project is to develop a marine mammal health and disease mapping system that will allow managers, scientists, policymakers and the public to track changes in marine mammal health, an important sentinel of ocean health. This platform will provide a centralized location for stranding networks to disseminate their collective data. The map can be used to determine the relative marine mammal health status to other components of the ocean ecosystem, and future health studies can be planned based on the information presented. The map will include diseases and contaminant data, and will document human-marine mammal interactions. 3

Although marine mammals can function as ecosystem indicators, there is currently no readily accessible national o rinternational dataset for tracking disease trends. The Health Map is a collaboration between many groups, including the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP),the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), the National Wildlife Health Center, NGOs, academics and State agencies.

A pilot system for marine mammal health and disease tracking is currently being developed using selected data from the California NMFS-MMHSRP stranding program spanning 2005-2010. Causes of death are grouped into various health categories,which are then mapped spatially. These results will be discussed at an upcoming workshop in April 2014. The purpose of the workshop is to develop a marine mammal health map for the contiguous western states of the U.S. This project will allow us to better track, predict, manage, and adapt to changes in marine mammal health. For example, relationships between rates of ship strikes in baleen whales and acoustic impacts, harmful algal bloom distribution and marine mammal mortality, and specific pathogen distribution and marine mammal disease,can be investigated. Ultimately, our goal is to create a unified national map to improve assessments of ocean health.


Using shark attacks on pinnipeds as warnings of public safety concerns

Howorth,Peter¹, Collier, Ralph²

1Santa BarbaraMarine Mammal Center

²SharkResearch Committee

We noticed from strandings that shark attacks on pinnipeds and sea otters had greatly increased in Santa Barbara County. We conferred with NMFS scientists to see if similar increases had occurred at the Channel Islands. We also conferred with U.S.G.S. and California Department of Fish and Wildlife researchers to see if attacks on sea otters had increased. With the Shark Research Committee, we investigated whether incidents involving sharks and humans had increased as well. When possible, we determined the species of shark responsible for each incident––the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was involved in the vas tmajority of incidents. After determining that a very significant increase in shark incidents had occurred in all study areas, we conducted a literature search to find the cause of such increases. We suggest that the increased shark activity is not connected so much to increased prey as to greatly increased numbers of white sharks. We found that shark attacks on humans in the region from San Simeon to the Mexican border had increased sevenfold between the 1990s and the 2000s. This increase could not be attributed to a parallel increase ofhumans in the water during this period. Some attacks involved serious and even fatal injuries to humans. Since attacks on pinnipeds frequently occurred in areas where humans engaged in various water activities, we concluded that aclear danger existed to humans. We held meetings with first responders from all levels of government to express our concern and to propose using shark-bitten marine mammals as indicators of shark hazards. We established a 24/7 contact system for all key personnel in each jurisdiction. We also developed a fas tguide to identifying potentially dangerous sharks. We presented lectures to the public and to various water user groups. Our shark warning system has been very well received.4

Health studies of a marine sentinel species, the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), in Central California

Hughes,Stephanie1,2,Manugian,Suzanne1, Harvey, James1, Hernandez,Keith1

1Moss LandingMarine Laboratories, Vertebrate Ecology Lab, 8272 Moss Landing Road, MossLanding, CA 95039

2University ofAlaska, Fairbanks, PO Box 757000, Fairbanks, AK 99775

Marine sentinel species are useful to monitor the health of coastal ecosystems. The Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) is an ideal sentinel species because of their coastal distribution, opportunistic foraging behavior and relative site fidelity. Two recent studies have expanded upon our knowledge o fharbor seal health and survival in the coastal waters of Central California.Hughes and colleagues investigated the dynamics and virulence of Vibrio spp. from seals along the central coast. Fecal swabs were obtained from live caught and stranded seals from Elkhorn Slough (ES), San Francisco (SFB), Tomales (TB) andHumboldt Bays. Swabs were cultured and tested for the presence of Vibrio.Single species cultures of Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. cholerae were tested for virulence genes. Morphometric measurements and environmental data were used to differentiate trends in Vibrio prevalence. Overall Vibrio prevalence was 29%for free-ranging seals and 17% for stranded seals over the sampling period.Proportions, prevalence and virulence of different Vibrio species varied between locations. The authors suggest further studies to determine the source of Vibrio in the sample locations. Manugian and colleagues studied the long-term survival of free-ranging seals along the central coast. Subcutaneous radio transmitters were implanted in adult female seals captured in ES, SFB andTB between 2010 and 2011. Seals were tracked between August 2011 and March 2013. Survival and recapture probabilities were estimated using Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) model, and biologically relevant models incorporating survival and resight probabilities with morphometric and time covariates we reevaluated using Aikaike’s Information Criterion (AICc). Survival estimates were higher than previously reported values, and resight probabilities differed between bays. This study presented the first survival and resight probabilities calculated from live movement data and present a baseline for future studies.Further life history studies are encouraged to improve the estimates provided in this study.


Clostridiumperfringens septicemia with gas production: an etiology of gas emboli in free-ranging cetaceans

KerriDanil1, Judy A. St.Leger2, Sophie Dennison3, Miriam Scadeng4, Yara Bernaldode Quirós5, Erika Nilson2, NicoleBeaulieu1

1SouthwestFisheries Science Center; 2Sea World SanDiego, 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA 92109, USA

3Marine MammalRadiology; 4Universityof California at San Diego; 5 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

An adult female long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis) stranded alive in La Jolla, CA on July 30, 2012 and subsequently died on the beach. Gas bubbleaccumulation in the vasculature, parenchymal organs, mandibular fat pads, and subdermal sheath, as well as mild caudal abdominal effusion and fluid in the uterus was revealed by computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Many of these findings were confirmed on gross exam. In addition, open wounds on the palate, ventral skin, and flukes, and uterine necrosis were observed.Histologic review of the brain, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes revealed necrosis and round clear spaces interpreted as gas bubbles with associated bacterial rods. Anaerobic cultures of the lung, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and abdominal fluid yielded Clostridium perfringens, which was further identified as type A via a multiplex PCR assay. The gas composition of sampled bubbles was typical of putrefaction gases, which is consistent with the products of C.perfringens, a gas-forming bacterium. Gas bubble formation in marine mammals due to barotrauma and peri- or postmortem off gassing of supersaturated tissues and blood has been previously described. This is the first documented case of gas emboli and parenchymal cavitations caused by the gas producing 5

bacterium, C. perfringens, in afree-ranging marine mammal. The thorough evaluation of this case was crucial tounderstanding the extent and etiology of the observed gas in this specimen. Theability to correctly determine the cause of gas accumulation in stranded marinemammals is essential for marine mammal management.


What is SLiCC? An update on California sea lion cancer consortium

FrancesM.D. Gulland1

1The MarineMammal Center

Wild California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) have an unusually high prevalence of urogenital carcinoma, with estimates of prevalence in stranded animals varying between 15 and 20% over the past 30 years. The carcinoma has a characteristic morphological appearance and is rarely observed in captive animals unless they were wild-born, despite other types of neoplasia being reported in these animals. To date, we have documented infection with a gamma-herpesvirus (OtHV-1), exposure to organochlorines, having the MHC ClassII Zaca-DRB.A locus, and inbreeding depression (as estimated using levels of microsatellite multilocus heterozygosity) increased risk for this neoplasia. To continue research on the interaction amongst infectious, genetic andcontaminant etiologies, we created the Sea Lion Cancer Consortium ( SLiCC)(http://www.smru.st-andrews.ac.uk/slicc/) to ensure the interaction amongst multiple factors likely involved in carcinogenesis was fully explored, as wellas to maximize information from each stranded sea lion with carcinoma. Since SLiCC was established, new results suggest the effect of inbreeding is largely driven by one marker, Pv11 which was mapped to in tron 9 of the HPSE2 locus in the California sea lion. This gene encodes heparanase 2, the function of whichis not fully understood, but increased expression in humans is associated with head and neck carcinoma. Cytogenetic maps using fluorescein-marked chromosomeshave identified several chromosomal changes in cells from carcinomas. Viral studies have focussed on exploring potential origins of OtHV1, and have identifiednovel herpesvirusus in sympatric northern fur seals. These new results highlight the importance of continuing to explore multiple factors in the pathogenesis of this common carcinoma.



Rivera,Rebecca1andVenn-Watson, Stephanie2

1Navy MarineMammal Program

2National MarineMammal Foundation

From 2006 to 2012, the Navy Marine Mammal Program and its collaborative partners were funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Defense to discover viruses in marine mammals and to assess their risks to Navy dolphins and sea lions. Findings from this research and others have demonstrated that 1)a wide variety of viruses (including calicivirus, papillomavirus andparainfluenza virus) are associated with infectious disease in marine mammals,2) many marine mammal viruses are closely related to those that infect humans,(e.g., dolphin morbillivirus is most closely related to measles), and 3) human and marine mammal viruses recombine (e.g., astroviruses) and create viruses that likely infect both marine mammals and humans. Samples from collection,wild and stranded marine mammals have been an invaluable resource to these studies. Understanding of pathogen, disease severity, and epidemiological risk factors, including those that may emerge from the ocean, are essential components of preparedness for zoonotic agents of marine origin.6

Trend detection and enhanced cataloguing of bioaccumulative chemicals in southern California dolphins

Dodder,Nathan1, Chivers, Susan2, Weller, David2

1SouthernCalifornia Coastal Water Research Project;

2SouthwestFisheries Science Center

Anthropogenic bioaccumulative contaminants are widely distributed in the Southern California Bight (SCB) marine environment. High concentrations of these chemicals have been found in sediments and a variety of marine organisms, and may cause negative health effects. Less is known, however, about the occurrence of these contaminants in apex predators even though they may be assumed to have the highest body-burdens due to trophic biomagnification. Apex predators, including dolphins, may also aid in the early detection of emerging contaminants o fconcern. To assess contaminant exposure and determine the suitability of dolphins as a sentinel species for bioaccumulative compounds, two studie measured blubber biopsies from stranded and free-ranging dolphins (common and bottlenose) for known contaminants and examined temporal and spatial trends. At hird study was designed to examine unexpected and unknown contaminants in blubber from stranded bottlenose dolphins. While known contaminants are high in abundance and a logical suite of compounds to investigate, they are only a subset of the total contaminant load to which apex predators are exposed. There are thousands of suspected contaminants which are not typically monitored due to the cost of method development. Of additional interest are unknowns, which are bioaccumulative compounds that have not yet been identified and catalogued. The novel non-targeted analytical method was based on comprehensive two dimensional gas chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC/TOF-MS). Mass spectra were identified by searching against libraries of mass spectra, manual interpretation, and/or matching to authentic reference standards. This non-targeted analytical approach provided an inventory of compounds that was significantly closer to the complete chemical load compared to targeted monitoring. These three studies demonstrate the potential utility of stranding networks to aid in the protection of ocean habitats and resources against chemical contamination.


Understanding cetacean hearing would be impossible without the stranding network

Cranford,Ted1, Krysl, Petr2

1San Diego StateUniversity; University of California, San Diego

One component of directional hearing is the acoustic transformation that occurs as sound passes through the cetacean head. Previous studies show that odontocete hearing is directional; unfortunately there is no information describing such parameters for mysticetes. Understanding how the head transforms received sound is a prerequisite for accurate assessment of risk from anthropogenic sources.We developed a bioacoustic simulator based on (1) marine mammal CT scans of fresh postmortem specimens from the stranding network; (2) tissue elasticity data; and (3) finite element modeling (FEM) software. For this study, we used the toolkit to simulate sound reception across three species and multiple acoustic frequencies. Thus far, we have computed simulations for, Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris), the Long-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinuscapensis), and a neonate Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus). These virtual experimentsshow some similar patterns across these diverse species. Since cetaceans livein water and tissues have properties that are similar to water, sound enters the head from many points, leading to the supposition that the head acts like an antenna for sound. In the odontocetes, preliminary results suggest that sound travels differentially through at least two branches or""portals"" of the mandibular fat bodies. These two branches attach to distinct locations on the bony tympanoperiotic 7

complexes, one on the tympanic bulla and the other on the medial sulcus of the mallear ridge. The results for the mysticete indicate a shift in the mechanism of sound reception to emphasize low frequencies.

This innovative computational approach provides a rapid, low-cost means to delineate sound reception parameters across a diverse array of marine mammal species. At the same time, these tools increase our understanding of hearing performance,and the potential effects of anthropogenic sounds.


Domoic acid in the leather back turtle food web on critical foraging grounds in central California


1NOAASouthwest Fisheries Science Center, Marine Turtle Ecology and AssessmentProgram, Morro Bay, CA

2NOAASouthwest Fisheries Science Center, Marine Turtle Ecology and AssessmentProgram, Moss Landing, CA

3NOAA/NationalOcean Service, Marine Biotoxins Program, Charleston, SC

4CaliforniaDepartment of Fish and Wildlife, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and ResearchCenter,Santa Cruz,CA

5NOAAOffice of Protected Resources, Gainesville FL

6Universityof California, Santa Cruz

7NOAASouthwest Regional Office, Long Beach, CA

8NOAASouthwest Fisheries Science Center, Marine Turtle Ecology and AssessmentProgram, La Jolla, CA

Leathe rbackturtles (Dermochelys coriacea) that forage seasonally on scyphozoan jellies off the west coast of the United States are part of the critically endangered western Pacific population that nests in Papua Barat (Indonesia), Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Critical foraging habitat was recently designated for this declining population along central California, Oregon, and Washington, with prey condition noted as the sole biological feature essential for conservation of the species. Although leatherbacks are exposed to domoic acid in central California, the role of jellies in the bioaccumulation and trophic transfer of marine biotoxins has not been studied. To investigate the exposure pathway of domoic acid in the leatherback food web, samples from four species of scyphozoan jellies (n=33), live captured turtles (n=2), and dead stranded turtles (n=6) were evaluated. Domoic acid was found in 94% (31/33) of whole jellies, ranging from 5 to 141 ng/g. Domoic acid was also detected in 57%(4/7) of leatherback turtles in one or more tissues. Three of the four positive leatherbacks had low levels of DA (<8.0 ng/ml or ng/g) in the urine and gastrointestinal samples, likely representative of chronic background exposures. However, one dead stranded turtle, the first tagged animal from a western Pacific nesting beach to be recovered on the U.S. west coast, had high concentrations of domoic acid in the urine (432.9 ng/ml), esophageal contents(327.3 ng/g), and stomach contents (284.8 ng/g), suggesting an acute exposure.Subsequent analysis of esophageal contents confirmed the presence of Pseudo-nitzschia frustules in the gastrointestinal tract. Furthe rinvestigations on the risk of domoic acid to this vulnerable population a rewarranted since both HAB events and jelly blooms appear to be increasing as a result of changing ocean conditions, potentially in response to the cumulative effects of human impact.


Phase I Launched: The Marine Mammal Anatomy and Pathology Library

RobinC. Dunkin1, David Casper1, Ross A.McClenahan2

1Long Marine LabStranding Program, U.C. Santa Cruz

2Tree Top WebDesign

This is a Prescott funded project to develop the Marine Mammal Anatomy and PathologyLibrary (MMAPL), based on the former website, The Sea Lion Gallery. MMAPL is a living online resource for 8 necropsy photos of California sea Lion and Harbor Porpoise (with phocid seal coming in 2014/2015) as well as extensive training materials including slide shows such as “Watch it Rot: Sea Lion and Harbor Porpoise” for deciding on the condition code for a carcass. There arealso interactive quizzes that stranding programs can use to train volunteers onstranding response protocols. Other training sections include “Common Weightsand Measures”, “He or She: a Guide to Gender Determination”, “The Basics ofCarcass Transport”, and “A Guide to Artifacts”. The site features both normalanatomy and common pathologies for each species as well as resources for humansafety protocols, examples of gross legions, and histological examples for manyof the top 10 pathogens on the NOAA pathogen list. The site is intended to be acollaborative and growing resource which is easily accessible, easy to update,and fully searchable. As such, we have sought input from several differentstranding groups and pathologists in the development of the site and additionalresources are being added monthly. Stranding programs are encouraged to submitphotos, interesting cases, or general knowledge articles that may be includedon the website as well.


Orca O319, the journey from beach to exhibit hall

Flannery,Moe1, Pemberton, Sue1, Wilkinson,Laura1

1CaliforniaAcademy of Sciences

The story of Orca O319 began with a stranding report to the California Academy of Sciences on Thanksgiving 2011. After the initial Level A data collection, the carcass was identified by Graeme Ellis of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as a juvenile, male orca (Orcinus orca) of the Offshore ecotype.O319 had been recorded multiple times off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska between 2002 and 2011. There are three ecotypes of orca found along the west coast of North America, Resident, Transient, and Offshore, distinguished by morphology, geography, feeding ecology, behavior, and genetics. Due to the fact that very little is known about the Offshore ecotype, we collected the entire skeleton for archiving at the museum. During the Summer of 2013, we had the opportunity to articulate the skeleton for display. A team of 37 volunteers and five staff built the entire skeleton on the exhibit floor in front of the general public. As far as we know, this is the first time the public has been able to interact with scientists while completing a project such as this. This presentation summarizes the entire process from initial response to final gallery installation. We will discuss the valuable lessons we learned abou tOffshore orcas, articulating a skeleton while on public display, and the importance of marine mammal stranding response outreach and education activities. This project resulted in the first complete skeleton of an Offshore orca on permanent display in a museum in the contiguous United States.


Acoustic Transmitter Integrated Remote Sedation for Tracking and Capture of Pinnipeds

Frankfurter,Greg1, Johnson, Shawn1

1The MarineMammal Center

Pinnipeds along the California Coast are often seen with injuries or entanglements that require treatment, but do not impair the animal enough to allow for capture. A variety of techniques have been attempted to capture these animals including traps, nets, and most recently remote sedation. Remote sedation has proven to be an effective means of targeting specific animals. However, animals often re-enter the water in response to darting, and may be difficult to follow or relocate once sedation has taken effect. Recent work has shown that sedated animals often surface and breathe, yet these animals are still at risk for boat strikes, entrapment and drowning. To aid in the capture of injured pinnipeds,we have developed and tested a sedative dart. Coupled with a boat-based directional hydrophone, we have successfully tracked 9

darted animals after they havere-entered the water. These techniques coupled with appropriate sedation canaid in successful recovery and treatment of entangled and injured animals,while minimizing the risks of sedation.


National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank: Sample Collection and Processing Training

RebeccaS. Pugh1

1NationalInstitute of Standards and Technology, Charleston, SC

In 1989, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources(NMFS/OPR), in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) began the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank (NMMTB) for long-term cryogenic archival of selected marine mammal tissues. In 1992, the NMMTB was formally established by the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Act (Public Law 102-587). The NMMTB, which is an important component of NMFS’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, is maintained b yNIST as part of the Marine Environmental Specimen Bank (Marine ESB). Attendees at this workshop will be trained on how to collect and process blubber and liver samples following strict protocols that were developed by NIST. NIST will provide all supplies and kits that are necessary to sample tissues for the NMMTB.


Current Hypoglycemia Protocols for Pinnipeds at The Marine Mammal Center

Campbell,Lauren RVT1, Johnson,ShawnDVM1, Fravel,VanessaDVM1,Frankfurter,Greg DVM1

1The MarineMammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center on average rescues approximately 600 animals a year. A large portion of these, are young animals that strand due to maternal separation and malnutrition. Malnutrition is defined as suboptimal amounts of essential nutrition-an intermediate stage to starvation. An animal starving for unknown periods results in depletion of glycogen stores and therefore impairs ability to convert glycogen into glucose, which leaves young animals compromised and prone to hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by low blood sugar, or abnormally low levels of glucose in the blood. Hypoglycemia due to starvation is difficult to treat and often reoccurs within hours resulting in death. Over the past 3 years, The Marine Mammal Center has been working on re-evaluating the hypoglycemia treatment protocols in Pinnipeds, with primary focus on Pacific Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina),Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris) and California Sea Lions(Zalophus californianus). This presentation will focus on the research that has helped to guide changes in our protocols, what the current protocols entail,challenges of hypoglycemic crashes, what still needs work, future research and how these changes, lead to the successful rehabilitation and release of a California Sea Lion in May 2013. 10

Detecting possible acoustic trauma: ear extraction and fixation

Maria Morell1

1University ofBritish Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Man-madenoise, at different intensity levels, can negatively affect cetacean populations by masking their acoustic signals, altering their behaviour and physiology, or causing hearing loss. This hearing loss can be temporal or permanent. In the last case, lesions are produced at the level of inner ear sensory hair cells of the organ of Corti and at the associated innervation,which can be severe enough to contribute to live strandings and presumably the loss of animals. For this reason the study of the hearing system of cetaceans,and more specifically their cochlea, is key to assess the impact of anthropogenic acoustic sources on cetaceans. We use electron microscopy to evaluate the type and extent of damage.





Causes of mortality in small cetaceans from central California determined by CT scan,gross examination, and histopathology

DeniseGreig1, MaureenFlannery1, Sue Pemberton1, Lauren Rust2, ElizabethWheeler1,2,KathleenColegrove3, SophieDennison4

1The CaliforniaAcademy of Sciences; 2The MarineMammal Center;

3University ofIllinois at Urbana-Champaign; 4Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services

Harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) have recently re-entered the urbanized estuary of San Francisco Bay. Their reappearance in the bay, coupled with an unusual mortality event (UME) in 2008 and 2009, has generated interest in the disease risks and causes of mortality for these animals. During the UME, the most common causes of stranding were maternal separation and blunt force trauma(Wilkin et al. 2012). In 2010, to learn more about causes of mortality, gas formation in the tissues, and the prevalence and distribution of pterygoidverminous sinusitis, we added CT scans to the necropsy protocol for fresh dead stranded odontocetes. To date, we have performed 20 scans on 14 harbor porpoises, one Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), one bottlenose dolphin(Tursiops truncatus), one striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), one pygmy beaked whale (Mesoplodon peruvianus), one common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)and one Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli). CT demonstrated sinus pathologyin all animals (except the beaked whale) and nematodes were directly observed at necropsy. CT also demonstrated fractures (9), intracranial hemorrhage (2)and pneumothorax (7), suggestive of blunt force trauma. A cestode infestationand a pneumothorax caused by a barbed spine were diagnosed by CT and confirmed by gross necropsy. Abnormal gas accumulations were present and could be attributedto trauma in all but one animal. Because of the high prevalence of chronicverminous pterygoid sinusitis and the acute nature of the traumatic injuries,stranding was attributed to the trauma not the sinusitis. In the Delphinuscase, hydrocephalus was diagnosed by CT, meningoencephalitis diagnosed by histopathology, and Brucella DNA detected in cerebrospinal fluid by PCR. These cases provide useful baseline data in the event of a stranding where barotraumais suspected to play a role and demonstrate that whole body CT is a useful adjunct to necropsy and histopathology.11

Association between positivecanine heartworm (dirofilaria immitis) testing in California sea lions(Zalophus Californianus) and nematode (acanthocheilonema odendhali) infection

DavidD.R. Krucik, William van Bonn, Shawn P. Johnson


California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are routinely tested for infection with canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) prior to introduction into a captive environment. No known cases of D. immitis have been reported in wild sea lions;however, positive D. immitis antigen test results are common in sea lions tested at The Marine Mammal Center. A canthocheilonema odendhali is a common cause of microfilaremia in California sea lions and is evident when conducting routine differential examination of blood. Thirty-five incidental cases of microfilaremia were observed at The Marine Mammal Center in 2011. The objective of this study was to collect pilot data to investigate a possible association between positive results on a heartworm antigen test and microfilaremia due to A. odendhali infection. Ten serum samples from sea lions were submitted to Antech Diagnostics for ELSA antigen test for D. immitis. Five negative control samples collected from neonatal pups and five samples from animals with microfilaremia, confirmed microscopically on blood smear, were submitted. All five of the control samples returned negative results while four out of five of the microfilaremic samples were positive for D. immitis. These data indicate a possible association between infection with A. odendhali and a false positive result on the canine heartworm test while supporting the need for furtherinvestigation.


Comparisons of marine turtle by-catch and stranding mitochondrial DNA; Are strandings a good indicator for understanding the genetic stock composition of marine turtle by-catch?

LeRoux,Robin A.1, Fahy, Christina. 2, LaCasella, Erin L. 1, Enriquez, Lyle2, Cordaro,Joe2, Norberg, Brent2, Wilkin, Sarah4, Seminoff, Jeffrey1, Dutton, Peter H. 1

1.NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center

2.NMFS, West Coast Regional Office

3.NMFS, Headquarters

Waters along the U.S. Pacific coast have been identified as key foraging grounds for leatherback and green turtles, whereas the distribution of olive ridley and loggerhead turtles in these near-shore areas are less understood. In the marine environment each species routinely faces natural and human-induced threats that may lead to fisheries interactions and strandings. To determine stock origin and potential impacts to a given stock, tissue samples for genetic analysis are routinely taken from marine turtle-fisheries interactions and strandings.Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis was performed on 57 samples collected between 2002-2004 for the California based Pelagic Longline Fishery (CA LL), 10 samples collected between 1997-1999 for the California/Oregon Drift Gillnet Fishery (CA/OR DGN) and 84 samples collected from stranding occurrences along the U.S. Pacific coast (California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska) between 1994-2011. Stock origin of the sampled animals was determined by matching the mtDNA control region sequences with baseline information from key Pacific nesting populations. Stock composition for the turtles sampled in the pelagic areas (CA LL by-catch) and the more coastal areas (CA/OR DGN by-catch) were compared with the strandings. MtDNA results suggest that the stock origin of both the strandings and by-caught animals originate from the same nesting beachstocks (e.g. Japan for loggerheads; western Pacific for leatherbacks; and eastern Pacific for greens and 12

olive ridleys), indicating that theseturtle stocks generally inhabit a wide area of the northeast Pacific, and thatstrandings may provide a good proxy for determining potential stockinteractions with fisheries in this region. Our results help increase theunderstanding of marine turtle migration, oceanographic influences, and stockstructure of foraging assemblages in the Pacific.


The Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s (PMMC) development of an Active and Passive PostRelease Monitoring and Habitat Utilization Program

Matassa,Keith A.; Lewis, Kelli;

PacificMarine Mammal Center, 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) is developing programs to assess, monitor and analyze post-release success of rehabilitated animals and evaluate the usage of the near shore habitats by marine mammals, specifically pinnipeds,throughout the year. The success of this program will be in the development ofan active survey program performed by PMMC of the 53 miles of Orange County coastline 4 times/year, the utilization and training of end users of the coastal areas for reporting tagged released pinnipeds and the development of the West Coast Marine Animal Identification Network Website, a publicly accessible reporting website that PMMC hopes to be a repository of all re-sighting of tagged animals on the west coast. These programs, though being carried out primarily in Orange County, can be used and/or modified by other Rehabilitation Centers on the west coast.


The Effects of Oceanographic Conditions on Marine Mammal Strandings in CentralCalifornia

KathrynPelon1, Robin C. Dunkin1, David Casper1

1)Long Marine Lab Stranding Program, U.C. Santa Cruz

Marine mammal species thrive in Monterey Bay due to the success of the lower trophiclevels and the abundance of available nutrients provided by coastal upwelling.During El Niño seasons, the thermocline is deepened, the upwelling process is disrupted and primary productivity is reduced. El Niño conditions have been suspected to contribute to marine mammal stranding frequencies due to the bottom-upreduction in resources (Ulloa et al., 2001). A positive correlation between ElNiño events and number of pinniped strandings over the past 30 years was identified through statistical analysis of records of marine mammal strandings in Santa Cruz County kept by the Long Marine Lab Marine Mammal Stranding Network. The number of pinniped strandings were significantly higher in El Niño seasons than in normal or La Niña seasons (p=0.0009). In contrast, number of cetacean strandings could not be correlated with El Niño conditions using stranding network data (p=0.1104). The influence of El Niño on marine mammal strandings is currently being explored with a larger dataset using records obtained from The Marine Mammal Center.


Last modified: 12/24/2014