We collected blood from 18 beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas), live-captured in Bristol Bay, Alaska, USA, in May and September 2008, to establish baseline hematologic and serum chemistry values and to determine whether there were significant differences in hematologic values by sex, season, size/age, or time during the capture period. Whole blood was collected within an average of 19 min (range=11–30 min) after the net was set for capture, and for eight animals, blood collection was repeated in a later season after between 80–100 min; all blood was processed within 12 hr. Mean hematocrit, chloride, creatinine, total protein, albumin, and alkaline phosphatase were significantly lower in May than they were in September, whereas mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, monocytes, phosphorous, magnesium, blood urea nitrogen, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, γ-glutamyltranspeptidase, and creatinine kinase were significantly higher. Mean total protein, white blood cell count, neutrophils, and lymphocytes were significantly higher early in the capture period than they were later. No significant differences in blood analyte values were noted between males and females. Using overall body length as a proxy for age, larger (older) belugas had lower white blood cell, lymphocyte, and eosinophil counts as well as lower sodium, potassium, and calcium levels but higher creatinine levels than smaller belugas. These data provide values for hematology and serum chemistry for comparisons with other wild belugas.
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Vol. 48 • No. 1