Samantha Tufano

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2014


The study was conducted at Island Dolphin Care and Dolphins Plus Bayside in Key Largo, Florida and entails an analysis of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) cortisol concentrations and whistle rates during periods of perceived stress. Continuous activation of the physiological stress response can have detrimental health effects; therefore ways to detect and measure stress are crucial for marine mammal management. Blood parameters were utilized in the study as a measure of the physiological stress response. Baseline blood cortisol concentrations for each individual were compared to levels measured during the extractions. Whistle rate, defined as the number of whistles per minute, was measured during extractions for various individuals and was compared to a baseline whistle rate. Extractions included medical procedures and transports where the subjects were removed from the water for a period of time. Both blood cortisol concentration and whistle rate increased significantly during extractions, indicating that whistle rate can be used as a non-invasive measure of stress in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.


Department: MBF

MPS Track : MMS

Location: Dolphins Plus (Key Largo, FL)

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