Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2018


This project occurred during a 3-month Marine Mammal Training Internship at the National Aquarium, located in Baltimore, Maryland. The aquarium’s mission is “to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures” (National Aquarium, 2018) and their core values are integrity, innovation, service, excellence, and engagement. During this internship, an emergency endoscopy and foreign body removal procedure was conducted on one of the aquarium’s resident dolphins. The aquarium’s 13 year-old male dolphin, “Beau”, swallowed a 28-inch pool noodle made of polyethylene foam and wrapped in electrical tape. Although this object was not considered poisonous, this situation could cause major gastrointestinal problems and even death. Thus, this situation required immediate attention, thorough planning, and the implementation of new protocols. This study details foreign body ingestion, and offers a case study on the procedures and protocols implemented by the marine mammal trainers and veterinary staff at the National Aquarium to remove the noodle from the dolphin’s gastrointestinal system. This case study details an introduction of the facility, the history and explanation of foreign body ingestion in various species, National Aquarium’s planning and team recruitment and medical pool protocol and process. Additionally, this project aims to outline and justify any and all procedures performed (endoscopy, removal of noodle, etc.), follow-up procedures, re-evaluation of enrichment item approval process, and a discussion of alternative proactive measures. The focus of this study is to 1) report on the history of foreign body ingestion in animals both in the wild and within managed care facilities, and 2) describe, in detail, the occurrence of foreign body ingestion and the removal of said foreign body from a bottlenose dolphin at the National Aquarium.


Department: MES

MPS Track: MCO

Location: National Aquarium

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