Decoding the Secret Pathologies of Dolphins: Significance for Human and Ocean Health

Friday, February 19, 2010: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
Room 1B (San Diego Convention Center)
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most loved and recognizable ocean animals because of their human-like charisma, curiosity, and closeness to us in coastal waters but have more in common with people than meets the eye, such as ecological and physiological similarities. Dolphins are air-breathing mammals, feed near the top of food webs, and are affected by the same algal toxins, chemical contaminants, and infectious pathogens that cause illness in humans. Dolphins also have large brain-to-mass ratios like humans and share a unique way of carrying glucose in blood. Dolphins are valuable sentinel species to discover health effects associated with living in and near a changing ocean. In this session, a panel of U.S and Canadian government and academic scientists present the latest findings from dolphin and animal model research with relevancy to human health. Topics include how exposure to emerging and legacy chemicals could affect dolphin health, seafood quality, and coastal decision-making; what evolutionary advantage a natural diabetes-like metabolism in dolphins may provide; new information from animal models to expand understanding of epilepsy; and direct connections among emerging infectious diseases found in dolphins, humans, and pets. The session illustrates how dolphins and close relatives porpoises are sensitive indicators of ocean health threats and important models that provide cutting-edge insight into exposure, transmission, etiologies, and potential treatment for people.
Carolyn Sotka, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Oceans and Human Health Initiative
Paul Sandifer, NOAA Oceans and Human Health Initiative
Teri Rowles, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
David W. Weller, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center
The California Lifestyle: Contaminants and Consequences for Bottlenose Dolphins
Stephanie Venn-Watson, U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Foundation
Big Brains and High-Protein Diets: An Evolutionary Advantage of Diabetes in Dolphins
Stephen Raverty, British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Harbor and Dall's Porpoises: Early Indicators of Cryptococcosis in People and Pets
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