We evaluated the plasma concentration of the acute phase protein haptoglobin (Hp) from Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in regions of Alaska (USA) where the populations of these pinnipeds were declining and compared the values with concentrations of Hp from the same species in areas where the populations were stable. Samples were collected from 1992 through 1994 at sites in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands. Significantly higher levels of Hp were found in the samples from the areas of decline compared to those from stable populations. Based on these findings, we propose that one may be able to distinguish these compromised pinniped populations using Hp as a biomedical indicator.
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