Keri Lauermann

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2018


This study evaluated the efficacy of supplemental hydration (i.e. water and gelatin) through the evaluation of various blood parameters sensitive to hydration fluctuations in cetaceans, obtained voluntarily from trained Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) during routine husbandry events. The goal was to utilize an objective method to assess the hydration status of bottlenose dolphins in managed care facilities, the direct benefits of which are largely anecdotal and understudied. This research also provides a further, in-depth evaluation of the C-Well® Assessment, specifically the second welfare criteria (Freedom of Thirst), developed by Clegg, Borger-Turner and Eskelinen in 2015. Each of the blood parameters were analyzed compared to a variety of factors that may have affected an animal’s hydration status (i.e. hydration, age, sex, temperature, season, fasted/non-fasted, health status and reproductive state). The results indicated that certain blood parameters fluctuated with changes in hydration protocols. BUN, BUN/Creatinine ratio, calcium, chloride and sodium all exhibited relationships with hydrated blood values compared to non-hydrated baseline values. However, all the blood parameters examined had mean values within the normal CRC reference range for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Ultimately, this study identified important correlations between blood values and supplemental hydration. However, additional research is needed to determine reference intervals for supplemental hydration practices.


Department: MBE

MPS Track: MMS

Location: Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder, Key Largo, FL

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