A Biopsy system for small cetaceans: darting success and wound healing in Tursiops SPP.

Michael Krutzen, Lynne M. Barre, Luciana M. Möller, Michael R. Heithaus, Colleen Simms, William B. Sherwin

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    185 Citations (Scopus)


    Together with PAXARMS (NZ), we developed a biopsy system for small cetaceans and tested it on four populations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp.). The system consists of a modified 0.22 caliber rifle, and biopsy darts made out of polycarbonate with stainless steel biopsy tips. Animals were darted at a range of 2-15 m while travelling parallel to the vessel. Overall sampling success for obtaining biopsy samples when an animal was struck ranged from 96.6% to 100% in the four populations. However, hit rate varied for the four different populations. We did not observe a significant difference in strength of the reaction to the darting procedure when an animal was hit or missed, both among and within populations. Data from one population showed no significant difference in the reaction to biopsy sampling by four different age-sex classes. The only factor that had a significant influence on darting success was the hit location. Furthermore, we observed a significant positive correlation between the size of the sample obtained and the reaction to biopsy sampling. Biopsy samples were sufficient for microsatellite and d-loop analysis in 95.8% and for genetic sexing in 99% of all cases. In animals that we observed on a daily basis, wounds were healed after approximately 23 d.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)863-878
    Number of pages16
    JournalMarine Mammal Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • biopsy sampling
    • bottlenose dolphin
    • cetaceans
    • darting
    • tursiops sp
    • wound healing


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