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Find video protocols related to scientific articles indexed in Pubmed.
Postglacial climate changes and rise of three ecotypes of harbour porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, in western Palearctic waters.
Mol. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 05-11-2014
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Despite no obvious barriers to gene flow in the marine realm, environmental variation and ecological specializations can lead to genetic differentiation in highly mobile predators. Here, we investigated the genetic structure of the harbour porpoise over the entire species distribution range in western Palearctic waters. Combined analyses of 10 microsatellite loci and a 5085 base-pair portion of the mitochondrial genome revealed the existence of three ecotypes, equally divergent at the mitochondrial genome, distributed in the Black Sea (BS), the European continental shelf waters, and a previously overlooked ecotype in the upwelling zones of Iberia and Mauritania. Historical demographic inferences using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) suggest that these ecotypes diverged during the last glacial maximum (c. 23-19 kilo-years ago, kyrbp). ABC supports the hypothesis that the BS and upwelling ecotypes share a more recent common ancestor (c. 14 kyrbp) than either does with the European continental shelf ecotype (c. 28 kyrbp), suggesting they probably descended from the extinct populations that once inhabited the Mediterranean during the glacial and post-glacial period. We showed that the two Atlantic ecotypes established a narrow admixture zone in the Bay of Biscay during the last millennium, with highly asymmetric gene flow. This study highlights the impacts that climate change may have on the distribution and speciation process in pelagic predators and shows that allopatric divergence can occur in these highly mobile species and be a source of genetic diversity.
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Analysis of blood gases, serum fat and serum protein: a new approach to estimate survival chances of stranded Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pups from the German North Sea.
Acta Vet. Scand.
PUBLISHED: 02-01-2014
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Facing numerous challenges, such as illness, storms or human disturbance, some harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pups lose contact to their dams and are found abandoned along the North Sea coast. In Schleswig-Holstein, pups with the prospect of surviving rehabilitation are admitted to the Seal Center Friedrichskoog. Despite elaborate clinical health assessments on admission, including differential hematology, in 2010, 17% of 108 admitted pups did not survive the first 20 days. The death rate during the years 2006 and 2009 varied between 9 and 19%. To broaden the spectrum of variables which could be predictive for survival, blood gas and serum analyses were performed for 99 pups using venous blood. Variables included total CO2, pH, partial CO2, HCO3-, base excess and anion gap as well as glucose, urea nitrogen, sodium, potassium and chloride. Moreover, total serum protein and fat (triglyceride) concentrations were measured for all pups on admission.
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A systematic health assessment of indian ocean bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) and indo-pacific humpback (Sousa plumbea) dolphins incidentally caught in shark nets off the KwaZulu-Natal Coast, South Africa.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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Coastal dolphins are regarded as indicators of changes in coastal marine ecosystem health that could impact humans utilizing the marine environment for food or recreation. Necropsy and histology examinations were performed on 35 Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) and five Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) incidentally caught in shark nets off the KwaZulu-Natal coast, South Africa, between 2010 and 2012. Parasitic lesions included pneumonia (85%), abdominal and thoracic serositis (75%), gastroenteritis (70%), hepatitis (62%), and endometritis (42%). Parasitic species identified were Halocercus sp. (lung), Crassicauda sp. (skeletal muscle) and Xenobalanus globicipitis (skin). Additional findings included bronchiolar epithelial mineralisation (83%), splenic filamentous tags (45%), non-suppurative meningoencephalitis (39%), and myocardial fibrosis (26%). No immunohistochemically positive reaction was present in lesions suggestive of dolphin morbillivirus, Toxoplasma gondii and Brucella spp. The first confirmed cases of lobomycosis and sarcocystosis in South African dolphins were documented. Most lesions were mild, and all animals were considered to be in good nutritional condition, based on blubber thickness and muscle mass. Apparent temporal changes in parasitic disease prevalence may indicate a change in the host/parasite interface. This study provided valuable baseline information on conditions affecting coastal dolphin populations in South Africa and, to our knowledge, constitutes the first reported systematic health assessment in incidentally caught dolphins in the Southern Hemisphere. Further research on temporal disease trends as well as disease pathophysiology and anthropogenic factors affecting these populations is needed.
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Mysterious bio-duck sound attributed to the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis).
Biol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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For decades, the bio-duck sound has been recorded in the Southern Ocean, but the animal producing it has remained a mystery. Heard mainly during austral winter in the Southern Ocean, this ubiquitous sound has been recorded in Antarctic waters and contemporaneously off the Australian west coast. Here, we present conclusive evidence that the bio-duck sound is produced by Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). We analysed data from multi-sensor acoustic recording tags that included intense bio-duck sounds as well as singular downsweeps that have previously been attributed to this species. This finding allows the interpretation of a wealth of long-term acoustic recordings for this previously acoustically concealed species, which will improve our understanding of the distribution, abundance and behaviour of Antarctic minke whales. This is critical information for a species that inhabits a difficult to access sea-ice environment that is changing rapidly in some regions and has been the subject of contentious lethal sampling efforts and ongoing international legal action.
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In-air evoked potential audiometry of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) from the North and Baltic Seas.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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In-air anthropogenic sound has the potential to affect grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) behaviour and interfere with acoustic communication. In this study, a new method was used to deliver acoustic signals to grey seals as part of an in-air hearing assessment. Using in-ear headphones with adapted ear inserts allowed for the measurement of auditory brainstem responses (ABR) on sedated grey seals exposed to 5-cycle (2-1-2) tone pips. Thresholds were measured at 10 frequencies between 1-20 kHz. Measurements were made using subcutaneous electrodes on wild seals from the Baltic and North Seas. Thresholds were determined by both visual and statistical approaches (single point F-test) and good agreement was obtained between the results using both methods. The mean auditory thresholds were ?40 dB re 20 µPa peak equivalent sound pressure level (peSPL) between 4-20 kHz and showed similar patterns to in-air behavioural hearing tests of other phocid seals between 3 and 20 kHz. Below 3 kHz, a steep reduction in hearing sensitivity was observed, which differed from the rate of decline in sensitivity obtained in behavioural studies on other phocids. Differences in the rate of decline may reflect influence of the ear inserts on the ability to reliably transmit lower frequencies or interference from the structure of the distal end of the ear canal.
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Methodology and results of calibration of tonal click detectors for small odontocetes (C-PODs).
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
PUBLISHED: 08-24-2013
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Static acoustic monitoring (SAM) is one major technology for observing small cetacean species. Automatic click loggers deployed for long time periods (>2 months) with a single hydrophone are a standard solution. Acoustic properties, like detection thresholds of these instruments, are essential for interpretation of results, but have nevertheless received little attention. A methodology for calibrating tonal click detectors in small tanks consisting of the determination of the horizontal directivity pattern and detection thresholds including a transfer function is presented. Two approaches were tested to determine detection thresholds by (a) determining the 50% detection threshold and (b) fitting a linear regression model to the recorded relative amplitudes. The tests were carried out on C-PODs (Cetacean PODs, tonal click detectors), the most commonly used instrument for SAM in Europe. Directivity and threshold were tested between 60 and 150 kHz. Directivity showed a maximum variation of 8.5 dB in the horizontal plane. Sensitivity is highest between 80 and 130 kHz and linear (± 3 dB) in this frequency range for most of the instruments tested. C-PODs have a detection threshold (calculated with the linear model) of 114.5 ± 1.2 (standard deviation) dB re 1 ?Pa peak-peak at 130 kHz.
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Immune-relevant and new xenobiotic molecular biomarkers to assess anthropogenic stress in seals.
Mar. Environ. Res.
PUBLISHED: 06-18-2013
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Harbour seals as top predators and indicators for ecosystem health are exposed to increasing pressure caused by anthropogenic activities in their marine environment. After their lactation period of about 24 days pups are weaned and left to hunt on their own. Little is known about the development of their immune system and a better understanding of anthropogenic impacts on the general health and immune system of harbour seal pups is needed. mRNA transcription of six immuno-relevant biomarkers was analysed in 13 abandoned harbour seal pups from the North Sea, fostered at the Seal Centre Friedrichskoog, Germany. RNAlater blood samples were taken at admission, day 22 and before release and analysed using RT-qPCR. Significant differences in HSP70, cytokine IL-2 and xenobiotic biomarkers AHR, ARNT and PPAR? transcription were found between admission, during rehabilitation and before release. Highest levels at admission may result from dehydration, handling, transport and contaminant exposure via lactation. The significant decrease is linked to health improvement, feeding and adaptation. The increase before release is suspected to be due to infection pressure and contaminant exposure from feeding on fish. Molecular biomarkers are a sensitive tool to evaluate health and pollutant exposure and useful to serve as early warning indicators, monitoring and case-by-case tool for marine mammals in human care and the wild.
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Evaluation of immune and stress status in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena): can hormones and mRNA expression levels serve as indicators to assess stress?
BMC Vet. Res.
PUBLISHED: 03-22-2013
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The harbour porpoise is exposed to increasing pressure caused by anthropogenic activities in its marine environment. Numerous offshore wind farms are planned or under construction in the North and Baltic Seas, which will increase underwater noise during both construction and operation. A better understanding of how anthropogenic impacts affect the behaviour, health, endocrinology, immunology and physiology of the animals is thus needed. The present study compares levels of stress hormones and mRNA expression of cytokines and acute-phase proteins in blood samples of harbour porpoises exposed to different levels of stress during handling, in rehabilitation or permanent human care.Free-ranging harbour porpoises, incidentally caught in pound nets in Denmark, were compared to harbour porpoises in rehabilitation at SOS Dolfijn in Harderwijk, the Netherlands, and individuals permanently kept in human care in the Dolfinarium Harderwijk and Fjord & Belt Kerteminde, Denmark. Blood samples were investigated for catecholamines, adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine, as well as for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, metanephrine and normetanephrine. mRNA expression levels of relevant cell mediators (cytokines IL-10 and TNF?, acute-phase proteins haptoglobin and C-reactive protein and the heat shock protein HSP70) were measured using real-time PCR.
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Possible causes of a harbour porpoise mass stranding in Danish waters in 2005.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 02-27-2013
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An unprecedented 85 harbour porpoises stranded freshly dead along approximately 100 km of Danish coastline from 7-15 April, 2005. This total is considerably above the mean weekly stranding rate for the whole of Denmark, both for any time of year, 1.23 animals/week (ranging from 0 to 20 during 2003-2008, excluding April 2005), and specifically in April, 0.65 animals/week (0 to 4, same period). Bycatch was established as the cause of death for most of the individuals through typical indications of fisheries interactions, including net markings in the skin and around the flippers, and loss of tail flukes. Local fishermen confirmed unusually large porpoise bycatch in nets set for lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) and the strandings were attributed to an early lumpfish season. However, lumpfish catches for 2005 were not unusual in terms of season onset, peak or total catch, when compared to 2003-2008. Consequently, human activity was combined with environmental factors and the variation in Danish fisheries landings (determined through a principal component analysis) in a two-part statistical model to assess the correlation of these factors with both the presence of fresh strandings and the numbers of strandings on the Danish west coast. The final statistical model (which was forward selected using Akaike information criterion; AIC) indicated that naval presence is correlated with higher rates of porpoise strandings, particularly in combination with certain fisheries, although it is not correlated with the actual presence of strandings. Military vessels from various countries were confirmed in the area from the 7th April, en route to the largest naval exercise in Danish waters to date (Loyal Mariner 2005, 11-28 April). Although sonar usage cannot be confirmed, it is likely that ships were testing various equipment prior to the main exercise. Thus naval activity cannot be ruled out as a possible contributing factor.
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Relationships between in vitro lymphoproliferative responses and levels of contaminants in blood of free-ranging adult harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) from the North Sea.
Aquat. Toxicol.
PUBLISHED: 01-22-2013
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In vitro culture of peripheral blood leucocytes (PBLs) is currently used in toxicological studies of marine mammals. However, blood cells of wild individuals are exposed in vivo to environmental contaminants before being isolated and exposed to contaminants in vitro. The aim of this study was to highlight potential relationships between blood contaminant levels and in vitro peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation in free-ranging adult harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) from the North Sea. Blood samples of 18 individuals were analyzed for trace elements (Fe, Zn, Se, Cu, Hg, Pb, Cd) and persistent organic contaminants and metabolites (?PCBs, ?HO-PCBs, ?PBDEs, 2-MeO-BDE68 and 6-MeO-BDE47, ?DDXs, hexachlorobenzene, oxychlordane, trans-nonachlor, pentachlorophenol and tribromoanisole). The same samples were used to determine the haematology profiles, cell numbers and viability, as well as the in vitro ConA-induced lymphocyte proliferation expressed as a stimulation index (SI). Correlation tests (Bravais-Pearson) and Principal Component Analysis with multiple regression revealed no statistically significant relationship between the lymphocyte SI and the contaminants studied. However, the number of lymphocytes per millilitre of whole blood appeared to be negatively correlated to pentachlorophenol (r=-0.63, p=0.005). In adult harbour seals, the interindividual variations of in vitro lymphocyte proliferation did not appear to be directly linked to pollutant levels present in the blood, and it is likely that other factors such as age, life history, or physiological parameters have an influence. In a general manner, experiments with in vitro immune cell cultures of wild marine mammals should be designed so as to minimize confounding factors in which case they remain a valuable tool to study pollutant effects in vitro.
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What caused the UKs largest common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) mass stranding event?
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2013
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On 9 June 2008, the UKs largest mass stranding event (MSE) of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) occurred in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall. At least 26 dolphins died, and a similar number was refloated/herded back to sea. On necropsy, all dolphins were in good nutritive status with empty stomachs and no evidence of known infectious disease or acute physical injury. Auditory tissues were grossly normal (26/26) but had microscopic haemorrhages (5/5) and mild otitis media (1/5) in the freshest cases. Five lactating adult dolphins, one immature male, and one immature female tested were free of harmful algal toxins and had low chemical pollutant levels. Pathological evidence of mud/seawater inhalation (11/26), local tide cycle, and the relative lack of renal myoglobinuria (26/26) suggested MSE onset on a rising tide between 06:30 and 08?21 hrs (9 June). Potential causes excluded or considered highly unlikely included infectious disease, gas/fat embolism, boat strike, by-catch, predator attack, foraging unusually close to shore, chemical or algal toxin exposure, abnormal weather/climatic conditions, and high-intensity acoustic inputs from seismic airgun arrays or natural sources (e.g., earthquakes). International naval exercises did occur in close proximity to the MSE with the most intense part of the exercises (including mid-frequency sonars) occurring four days before the MSE and resuming with helicopter exercises on the morning of the MSE. The MSE may therefore have been a "two-stage process" where a group of normally pelagic dolphins entered Falmouth Bay and, after 3-4 days in/around the Bay, a second acoustic/disturbance event occurred causing them to strand en masse. This spatial and temporal association with the MSE, previous associations between naval activities and cetacean MSEs, and an absence of other identifiable factors known to cause cetacean MSEs, indicates naval activity to be the most probable cause of the Falmouth Bay MSE.
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The stranding anomaly as population indicator: the case of harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena in North-Western Europe.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2013
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Ecological indicators for monitoring strategies are expected to combine three major characteristics: ecological significance, statistical credibility, and cost-effectiveness. Strategies based on stranding networks rank highly in cost-effectiveness, but their ecological significance and statistical credibility are disputed. Our present goal is to improve the value of stranding data as population indicator as part of monitoring strategies by constructing the spatial and temporal null hypothesis for strandings. The null hypothesis is defined as: small cetacean distribution and mortality are uniform in space and constant in time. We used a drift model to map stranding probabilities and predict stranding patterns of cetacean carcasses under H0 across the North Sea, the Channel and the Bay of Biscay, for the period 1990-2009. As the most common cetacean occurring in this area, we chose the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena for our modelling. The difference between these strandings expected under H0 and observed strandings is defined as the stranding anomaly. It constituted the stranding data series corrected for drift conditions. Seasonal decomposition of stranding anomaly suggested that drift conditions did not explain observed seasonal variations of porpoise strandings. Long-term stranding anomalies increased first in the southern North Sea, the Channel and Bay of Biscay coasts, and finally the eastern North Sea. The hypothesis of changes in porpoise distribution was consistent with local visual surveys, mostly SCANS surveys (1994 and 2005). This new indicator could be applied to cetacean populations across the world and more widely to marine megafauna.
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The use of an air bubble curtain to reduce the received sound levels for harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena).
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
PUBLISHED: 11-18-2011
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In December 2005 construction work was started to replace a harbor wall in Kerteminde harbor, Denmark. A total of 175 wooden piles were piled into the ground at the waters edge over a period of 3 months. During the same period three harbor porpoises were housed in a marine mammal facility on the opposite side of the harbor. All animals showed strong avoidance reactions after the start of the piling activities. As a measure to reduce the sound exposure for the animals an air bubble curtain was constructed and operated in a direct path between the piling site and the opening of the animals semi-natural pool. The sound attenuation effect achieved with this system was determined by quantitative comparison of pile driving impulses simultaneously measured in front of and behind the active air bubble curtain. Mean levels of sound attenuation over a sequence of 95 consecutive pile strikes were 14 dB (standard deviation (s.d.) 3.4 dB) for peak to peak values and 13 dB (s.d. 2.5 dB) for SEL values. As soon as the air bubble curtain was installed and operated, no further avoidance reactions of the animals to the piling activities were apparent.
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Are metal-induced hypersensitivities in harbor seals associated with liver function?
Mar. Pollut. Bull.
PUBLISHED: 05-26-2011
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Environmental exposure to metals is believed to affect marine mammal health adversely including immunosuppression or acute as well as chronic inflammatory processes leading to hypersensitivities or autoimmune diseases. Metal-specific hypersensitivities were found in several pinnipeds of the North Sea. However, hypersensitivity is a complex phenomenon whose characteristics are still not completely understood; in particular, effects on health are not well established. In the present study, we compared basic hematological and biochemical parameters of seals with and without metal-specific hypersensitivities. We found altered hematological parameters and liver enzyme patterns in seals with a metal-induced hypersensitivity, including a reduction in macrophages, an increase in lymphocytes, and elevated levels of lactate dehydrogenase. These findings support the suggestion of a chronic influence of metal pollutants on the health of marine mammals of the North Sea.
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Aspergillosis in the middle ear of a harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena): a case report.
Mycoses
PUBLISHED: 03-04-2010
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Hearing is one of the major senses in whales and dolphins (cetaceans). This is the first report of severe mycotic otitis media in a cetacean, a juvenile female harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from British waters that stranded alive. Gross examinations were followed by histological and microbiological investigations of the auditory apparatus. Both tympanic cavities and periotic sinuses displayed copious greenish-yellow purulent and caseous material. Severe fungal infestation by Aspergillus terreus was documented in the otic region but not in any other site of the body. Adjacent to the promontorium, massive accumulation of fibrinous secretion and infiltration of clusters of inflammatory cells were present. Newly formed cysts and vessels replaced the round window membrane location, reminiscent of granulation tissue. Inflammatory cells and a severe fibrin net were noted within the perilymphatic spaces of scala tympani and scala vestibuli, indicative of an acute fibrinous otitis. Inflammatory reactions have probably been caused by this fungal organism. The basilar membrane was solely covered by a simple cuboidal epithelium. Complete absence of sensory cells of the Organ of Corti characterised a further severe phenomenon, which possibly led to the animals poor nutritional status and stranding. Potential portals of entry are being discussed.
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Viral protein expression and phenotyping of inflammatory responses in the central nervous system of phocine distemper virus-infected harbor seals (Phoca vitulina).
Vet. Microbiol.
PUBLISHED: 02-18-2010
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The central nervous system (CNS) represents an important target organ of the phocine distemper virus (PDV). The aim of the present study was to characterize pathological changes in the CNS of harbor seals suffering from natural PDV-infection. The distribution of virus protein and mRNA was investigated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization, respectively. In addition, inflammatory and glial cells were characterized by IHC. Polioencephalitis with glial activation, neuronal death and perivascular mononuclear infiltrations in the cerebral cortex was the main histopathological finding. Inflammatory responses, dominated by CD3(+) T-cells and activated microglia/macrophages were associated with a prominent MHC-II upregulation within the CNS. Viral protein was found predominantly in neurofilament-expressing neurons within inflamed areas as demonstrated by immunohistochemical double-labeling. Morbillivirus nucleo-, phospho-, matrix-, fusion- and hemagglutinin-proteins were found in CNS-lesions. The expressions of viral matrix- and fusion-proteins were reduced in severely inflamed plaques. Comparison of viral protein and mRNA expression revealed a diminished amount of viral phosphoprotein preferentially associated with perivascular inflammation. In summary, CNS-lesions in PDV-infected seals are similar to canine distemper virus-induced acute polioencephalitis in dogs and measles virus inclusion body polioencephalitis in men, respectively.
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Emerging infectious diseases in cetaceans worldwide and the possible role of environmental stressors.
Dis. Aquat. Org.
PUBLISHED: 11-12-2009
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We reviewed prominent emerging infectious diseases of cetaceans, examined their potential to impact populations, re-assessed zoonotic risk and evaluated the role of environmental stressors. Cetacean morbilliviruses and papillomaviruses as well as Brucella spp. and Toxoplasma gondii are thought to interfere with population abundance by inducing high mortalities, lowering reproductive success or by synergistically increasing the virulence of other diseases. Severe cases of lobomycosis and lobomycosis-like disease (LLD) may contribute to the death of some dolphins. The zoonotic hazard of marine mammal brucellosis and toxoplasmosis may have been underestimated, attributable to frequent misdiagnoses and underreporting, particularly in developing countries and remote areas where carcass handling without protective gear and human consumption of fresh cetacean products are commonplace. Environmental factors seem to play a role in the emergence and pathogenicity of morbillivirus epidemics, lobomycosis/LLD, toxoplasmosis, poxvirus-associated tattoo skin disease and, in harbour porpoises, infectious diseases of multifactorial aetiology. Inshore and estuarine cetaceans incur higher risks than pelagic cetaceans due to habitats often severely altered by anthropogenic factors such as chemical and biological contamination, direct and indirect fisheries interactions, traumatic injuries from vessel collisions and climate change.
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Epidemiological pattern of tattoo skin disease: a potential general health indicator for cetaceans.
Dis. Aquat. Org.
PUBLISHED: 09-16-2009
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The presence of tattoo skin disease (TSD) was examined in 1392 free-ranging and dead odontocetes comprising 17 species from the Americas, Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and Greenland. We investigated whether TSD prevalence varied with sex, age and health status. TSD was encountered in cetaceans from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as in those from the North, Mediterranean and Tasman Seas. No clear patterns related to geography and host phylogeny were detected, except that prevalence of TSD in juveniles and, in 2 species (dusky dolphin Lagenorhynchus obscurus and Burmeisters porpoise Phocoena spinipinnis), in adults was remarkably high in samples from Peru. Environmental factors and virus properties may be responsible for this finding. Sex did not significantly influence TSD prevalence except in the case of Peruvian P. spinipinnis. Generally, there was a pattern of TSD increase in juveniles compared to calves, attributed to the loss of maternal immunity. Also, in most samples, juveniles seemed to have a higher probability of suffering TSD than adults, presumably because more adults had acquired active immunity following infection. This holo-endemic pattern was inverted in poor health short-beaked common dolphins Delphinus delphis and harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena from the British Isles, and in Chilean dolphins Cephalorhynchus eutropia from Patagonia, where adults showed a higher TSD prevalence than juveniles. Very large tattoos were seen in some adult odontocetes from the SE Pacific, NE Atlantic and Portugals Sado Estuary, which suggest impaired immune response. The epidemiological pattern of TSD may be an indicator of cetacean population health.
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Temporary shift in masked hearing thresholds in a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) after exposure to seismic airgun stimuli.
J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
PUBLISHED: 06-11-2009
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An auditory study was conducted to derive data on temporary threshold shift (TTS) induced by single impulses. This information should serve as basis for the definition of noise exposure criteria for harbor porpoises. The measurements of TTS were conducted on a harbor porpoise by measuring the auditory evoked potentials in response to amplitude-modulated sounds. After obtaining baseline hearing data the animal was exposed to single airgun stimuli at increasing received levels. Immediately after each exposure the animals hearing threshold was tested for significant changes. The received levels of the airgun impulses were increased until TTS was reached. At 4 kHz the predefined TTS criterion was exceeded at a received sound pressure level of 199.7 dB(pk-pk) re 1 microPa and a sound exposure level (SEL) of 164.3 dB re 1 microPa(2) s. The animal consistently showed aversive behavioral reactions at received sound pressure levels above 174 dB(pk-pk) re 1 microPa or a SEL of 145 dB re 1 microPa(2) s. Elevated levels of baseline hearing sensitivity indicate potentially masked acoustic thresholds. Therefore, the resulting TTS levels should be considered masked temporary threshold shift (MTTS) levels. The MTTS levels are lower than for any other cetacean species tested so far.
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Immunology of whales and dolphins.
Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol.
PUBLISHED: 01-26-2009
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The increasing disease susceptibility in different whale and dolphin populations has led to speculation about a possible negative influence of environmental contaminants on the immune system and therefore on the health status of marine mammals. Despite current efforts in the immunology of marine mammals several aspects of immune functions in aquatic mammals remain unknown. However, assays for evaluating cellular immune responses, such as lymphocyte proliferation, respiratory burst as well as phagocytic and cytotoxic activity of leukocytes and humoral immune responses have been established for different cetacean species. Additionally, immunological and molecular techniques enable the detection and quantification of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in lymphoid cells during inflammation or immune responses, respectively. Different T and B cell subsets as well as antigen-presenting cells can be detected by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Despite great homologies between marine and terrestrial mammal lymphoid organs, some unique anatomical structures, particularly the complex lymphoepithelial laryngeal glands in cetaceans represent an adaptation to the marine environment. Additionally, physiological changes, such as age-related thymic atrophy and cystic degeneration of the "anal tonsil" of whales have to be taken into account when investigating these lymphoid structures. Systemic morbillivirus infections lead to fatalities in cetaceans associated with generalized lymphoid depletion. Similarly, chronic diseases and starvation are associated with a loss of functional lymphoid cells and decreased resistance against opportunistic infections. There is growing evidence for an immunotoxic effect of different environmental contaminants in whales and dolphins, as demonstrated in field studies. Furthermore, immunomodulatory properties of different persistent xenobiotics have been confirmed in cetacean lymphoid cells in vitro as well as in animal models in vivo. However, species-specific differences of the immune system and detoxification of xenobiotics between cetaceans and laboratory rodents have to be considered when interpreting these toxicological data for risk assessment in whales and dolphins.
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Temporal trends of polyfluoroalkyl compounds in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the German Bight, 1999-2008.
Chemosphere
PUBLISHED: 01-19-2009
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Temporal trends of polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) were examined in liver samples from harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) collected from the German Bight (1999-2008). Concentrations of various PFCs, including C(4)-C(10) perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs), perfluorooctane sulfinate (PFOSi), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (FOSA) and C(8)-C(15) perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) were quantified. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the predominant compound with a maximum concentration of 3676 ng g(-1) ww (1996), making up on average 94% of the measured PFCs. Significantly higher concentrations were found in <7 month old in comparison to >or=7 month old harbor seals for C(6)-C(8) PFSAs, perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoDA) and FOSA, whereas perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) showed significantly lower concentrations in the younger harbor seals (p<0.05). These results suggest a transplacental transfer of PFCs to the foetus and/or consumption of different contaminated food. Regression analysis of logarithmic transformed PFC mean concentrations indicated a significant temporal trend with decreasing concentrations for C(5)-C(7) PFSAs (p<0.001), PFOSi (p=0.028), FOSA (p<0.001) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (p=0.031) between 1999 and 2008. Furthermore, PFOS decreased by 49% between 1999 and 2008, which correspond with decreasing concentration levels of its metabolic precursors PFOSi and FOSA of 83% and 95% in the same time period. However, the decreasing trend of PFOS is not significant (p=0.067). The reason for the decline during the past 10 years could be an effect of the replacement of these PFCs by shorter chained and less bioaccumulative compounds. But the observations of increasing perfluorodecane sulfonate (PFDS) levels (p=0.070), the high concentrations of PFOS and constant levels of C(9)-C(13) PFCAs indicates that further work on the reduction of environmental emissions of PFCs are necessary.
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Concentrations of chlorinated and brominated contaminants and their metabolites in serum of harbour seals and harbour porpoises.
Environ Int
PUBLISHED: 01-19-2009
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Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are top predators in the North Sea and consequently accumulate a variety of pollutants in their tissues. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and their hydroxylated metabolites (HO-PCBs and HO-PBDEs) were measured in serum of wild harbour seals (n=47) and captive harbour porpoises (n=21). Both species exhibit long life spans and do not have extreme situations, such as complete fasting during periods of lactation, in their annual cycles. For PCBs, concentrations in adult males were slightly higher than in juveniles and lowest in juvenile females. For PBDEs, juveniles have higher levels than adult males and females, probably as a consequence of lactational transfer. However, differences between these age-gender groups were not statistical significant, indicating that individual variation was limited within each species, even without knowing the feeding status of the animals. Body condition, particularly emaciation, has a major influence on the levels of chlorinated and brominated contaminants in serum. Profiles of PCBs were CB 153>CB 138>CB 187>CB 180 and CB 153>CB 138>CB 149>CB 187>CB 180 for harbour seals and porpoises respectively. For PBDEs, BDE 47 was the predominant congener followed by BDE 100 and 99 in both species. In harbour seals, concentrations of sum PCBs (median: 39,200 pg/ml) were more than 200 times higher than levels of sum PBDEs (median: 130 pg/ml) and almost 10 times higher than concentrations of sum HO-PCBs (4350 pg/ml). In harbour porpoises, concentrations of sum PCBs (median: 24,300 pg/ml) were about 20 times higher than concentrations of PBDEs (median: 1300 pg/ml). HO-PCBs were detected in only 4 harbour porpoises and this at very low concentrations. Naturally-produced MeO-PBDEs were only found in harbour porpoises at concentrations ranging from 120 to 810 pg/ml. HO-PBDEs were not found in any species. In general, harbour seals accumulate less compounds and have mostly lower concentrations than harbour porpoises possibly as a result of a better developed metabolism.
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Total body burden and tissue distribution of polyfluorinated compounds in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the German Bight.
Mar. Pollut. Bull.
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2009
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Total body burden and tissue distribution of polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were investigated in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from the German Bight in 2007. A total number of 18 individual PFCs from the following groups could be quantified in the different tissues: perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluorinated sulfonates (PFSAs) and their precursors perfluorinated sulfinates (PFSiAs), perfluorinated sulfonamides, and sulfonamido ethanols. Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) was the predominant compound in all measured seal tissues (up to 1665 ng g(-1) wet weight in liver tissue). The dominant PFCAs were perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), but their concentrations were much lower compared to PFOS. The mean whole body burden in harbor seals of all detected PFCs was estimated to be 2665+/-1207 microg absolute. The major amount of the total PFCs burden in the bodies was in blood (38%) and liver (36%), followed by muscle (13%), lung (8%), kidney (2%), blubber (2%), heart (1%), brain (1%), thymus (<0.01%) and thyroid (<0.01%). These data suggest large differences in body burden and accumulation pattern of PFCs in marine mammals.
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Arcanobacterium phocisimile sp. nov., isolated from harbour seals.
Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol.
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A polyphasic taxonomic study was performed on two previously unidentified Arcanobacterium-like Gram-positive strains isolated from harbour seals. Comparative 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed that both bacteria belonged to the genus Arcanobacterium and were most closely related to Arcanobacterium haemolyticum CIP 103370(T) (98.4% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity), A. canis P6775(T) (97.4%), A. phocae DSM 10002(T) (97.4%), A. pluranimalium M430/94/2(T) (95.7%) and A. hippocoleae CCUG 44697(T) (95.5%). The presence of the major menaquinone MK-9(H4) supported the affiliation of the isolates with the genus Arcanobacterium. The polar lipid profile consisted of major amounts of diphosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylinositol mannoside, an unidentified phospholipid and two unidentified glycolipids. The major fatty acids were C16:0, C18:0, C18:1?9c and summed feature 5 (comprising C18:2?6,9c and/or anteiso-C18:0). Physiological and biochemical tests clearly distinguished the isolates from other members of the genus Arcanobacterium. Based on the common origin and various physiological properties comparable to those of A. phocae, it is proposed that the isolates are classified as members of a novel species with the name Arcanobacterium phocisimile sp. nov. The type strain is 2698(T) (=LMG 27073(T) =CCM 8430(T)).
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Health status of seabirds and coastal birds found at the German North Sea coast.
Acta Vet. Scand.
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Systematic pathological investigations to assess the health status of seabirds and coastal birds in Germany were performed. The investigation was conducted to obtain data on possible causes of decline in seabird and coastal bird populations.
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Granulosa cell tumour in a harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from German waters.
Dis. Aquat. Org.
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Neoplastic diseases in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena have rarely been described, and there are no reported gonadal stromal tumours. A 12 yr old female harbour porpoise was stranded on the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Necropsy findings included a severe granulomatous pneumonia, pregnancy and a left ovarian tumour. Respiratory insufficiency was the likely cause of death. There was a multinodular mass composed of cords with peripherally palisading cells within the left ovary. The histological and cytological appearance of the neoplasm was suggestive of a granulosa cell tumour; supportive immunohistochemical stains, including those for vimentin, cytokeration, carcinoembryonic antigen, c-kit, chromogranin and ?-smooth muscle action, were negative.
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Temporal trends and spatial differences of perfluoroalkylated substances in livers of harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) populations from Northern Europe, 1991-2008.
Sci. Total Environ.
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Long-term temporal trends (1991-2008) and spatial differences of perfluoroalkylated substances (PFASs) were investigated in harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) liver samples of juvenile females from the Baltic and North Sea. Additionally, spatial differences between the populations in the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean (i.e. Iceland and Norway) and the influence of the body mass, age and sex on the PFAS concentrations were examined. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the predominant compound with a concentration range of 160-2425 ng/g wet weight (ww), followed by perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA, 1-237 ng/g ww) and perfluoroundecanoate (PFUnA, 3-124 ng/g ww). In terms of temporal trends, perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs) and PFOSA concentrations decreased over time, while, conversely, the C(9)-C(13) perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (PFCA) concentrations increased. Spatial distribution of the contaminant concentrations showed consistently higher concentrations in the Baltic Sea and lowest concentrations in the Icelandic population of the Atlantic Ocean.
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JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.

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