Rehabilitation efforts for live stranded marine mammals are guided by diagnostic measures of blood chemistry and hematology parameters obtained from each individual undergoing treatment. Despite the widespread use of blood parameters, reference values are not available in the literature from healthy rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) with which to infer the health status of an animal. We examined serum or plasma chemistry and hematology data from 17 rough-toothed dolphins either housed at Dolphin Quest French Polynesia or during their rehabilitation at the Dolphin and Whale Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, US between 1994 and 2005. Blood parameters were compared among healthy animals, rehabilitation animals that were eventually released, and rehabilitation animals that died. This study indicated significant differences in many blood parameters for the poorly known rough-toothed dolphin that are likely to vary between healthy and sick animals. These included aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, bicarbonate, and globulins, which were greater in sick dolphins, and alkaline phosphatase and total protein which were greater in healthy individuals. Total white blood cell counts were lower in healthy animals as were the absolute numbers of neutrophils, monocytes, and eosinophils. Analysis of first blood sample levels for glucose, sodium, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate may have value for triage and prognostic evaluation.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1