Moore Michael J.

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Moore
First Name
Michael J.
ORCID
0000-0003-3074-6631

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Now showing 1 - 20 of 115
  • Article
    Response to ‘On the importance of understanding physiology when estimating energetics in cetaceans’
    (Company of Biologists, 2017-02-15) Fahlman, Andreas ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Moore, Michael J. ; Levine, Gregg ; Rocho-Levine, Julie ; Brodsky, Micah
    We are grateful for the interest in our paper by two eminent physiologists and hope this response to their comments will clarify the objectives of our paper. The analysis in Fahlman et al. (2016) was not intended to provide an accurate method to estimate field metabolic rate (FMR) in large mysticetes; the objective was to measure the dynamic changes in physiology associated with recovery from exercise and show that they are important to consider when estimating FMR. While static averages can provide useful estimates of FMR for a variety of situations, these need to be appropriately selected. For example, we illustrate that it is not possible to use selected average values chosen from excised tissues or resting animals (as in Blix and Folkow, 1995) to provide meaningful estimates of FMR for animals at different activities (i.e. the dolphins in our study). Our study highlights the importance of temporal variation in physiological models: the Blix and Folkow (1995) estimates rely on the assumption that only breathing frequency (fR) changes with activity, while we argue that both the tidal volume (VT) and mixed lung O2 content also vary with activity and recovery from a dive (Ridgway et al., 1969). Including this variation in all three parameters reduces temporal uncertainty in the same conceptual model (see Eqn. 1 in Fahlman et al., 2016).
  • Article
    Entanglement is a costly life-history stage in large whales
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-12-11) van der Hoop, Julie ; Corkeron, Peter ; Moore, Michael J.
    Individuals store energy to balance deficits in natural cycles; however, unnatural events can also lead to unbalanced energy budgets. Entanglement in fishing gear is one example of an unnatural but relatively common circumstance that imposes energetic demands of a similar order of magnitude and duration of life-history events such as migration and pregnancy in large whales. We present two complementary bioenergetic approaches to estimate the energy associated with entanglement in North Atlantic right whales, and compare these estimates to the natural energetic life history of individual whales. Differences in measured blubber thicknesses and estimated blubber volumes between normal and entangled, emaciated whales indicate between 7.4 × 1010 J and 1.2 × 1011 J of energy are consumed during the course to death of a lethal entanglement. Increased thrust power requirements to overcome drag forces suggest that when entangled, whales require 3.95 × 109 to 4.08 × 1010 J more energy to swim. Individuals who died from their entanglements performed significantly more work (energy expenditure × time) than those that survived; entanglement duration is therefore critical in determining whales’ survival. Significant sublethal energetic impacts also occur, especially in reproductive females. Drag from fishing gear contributes up to 8% of the 4-year female reproductive energy budget, delaying time of energetic equilibrium (to restore energy lost by a particular entanglement) for reproduction by months to years. In certain populations, chronic entanglement in fishing gear can be viewed as a costly unnatural life-history stage, rather than a rare or short-term incident.
  • Article
    Respiration cycle duration and seawater flux through open blowholes of humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and North Atlantic right (Eubalaena glacialis) whales
    (Wiley, 2020-05-29) Martins, Maria Clara Iruzun ; Miller, Carolyn ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Robbins, Jooke ; Zitterbart, Daniel ; Moore, Michael J.
    Little is known about the dynamics of baleen whale respiratory cycles, especially the mechanics and activity of the blowholes and their interaction with seawater. In this study, the duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation events) were quantified for the first time in two species: North Atlantic right whale (NARW) and humpback whale (HW) using high resolution, detailed imagery from an unoccupied aerial system (UAS). The mean duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation event) in the NARW and HW were 3.07 s (SD = 0.503, n = 15) and 2.85 s (SD = 0.581, n = 21), respectively. Furthermore, we saw no significant differences in respiration cycle duration between age and sex classes in the NARW, but significant differences were observed between age classes in the HW. The observation of seawater covering an open blowhole was also quantified, with NARW having 20% of all breaths with seawater presence versus 90% in HW. Seawater incursion has not been described previously and challenges the general consensus that water does not enter the respiratory tract in baleen whales. Prevalent seawater has implications for the analysis and interpretation of exhaled respiratory vapor/mucosa samples, as well as for the potential inhalation of oil in spills.
  • Other
    Marine Mammal Human Interactions Resources
    ( 2017-03-15) Moore, Katie ; Simeone, Claire ; Wilkin, Sarah ; Moore, Michael J. ; Sharp, Brian ; Srinivasan, Mridula
    This folder provides additional resources about understanding types and effects of human interactions (e.g., from ship strikes, entanglement in fisheries gear) on marine mammals.
  • Article
    Drag of suction cup tags on swimming animals : modeling and measurement
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-11-12) Shorter, K. Alex ; Murray, Mark M. ; Johnson, Mark P. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Howle, Laurens E.
    Bio-logging tags are widely used to study the behavior and movements of marine mammals with the tacit assumption of little impact to the animal. However, tags on fast-swimming animals generate substantial hydrodynamic forces potentially affecting behavior and energetics adversely, or promoting early removal of the tag. In this work, hydrodynamic loading of three novel tag housing designs are compared over a range of swimming speeds using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Results from CFD simulation were verified using tag models in a water flume with close agreement. Drag forces were reduced by minimizing geometric disruptions to the flow around the housing, while lift forces were reduced by minimizing the frontal cross-sectional area of the housing and holding the tag close to the attachment surface. Hydrodynamic tag design resulted in an experimentally measured 60% drag force reduction in 5.6 m/s flow. For all housing designs, off-axis flow increased the magnitude of the force on the tag. Experimental work with a common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) cadaver indicates that the suction cups used to attach the types of tags described here provide sufficient attachment force to resist failure to predicted forces at swimming speeds of up to 10 m/s.
  • Article
    Bowhead whales, and not right whales, were the primary target of 16th- to 17th-century Basque whalers in the western North Atlantic
    (Arctic Institute of North America, 2008-03) McLeod, B. A. ; Brown, Moira W. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Stevens, W. ; Barkham, S. H. ; Barkham, M. ; White, B. N.
    During the 16th and 17th centuries, Basque whalers travelled annually to the Strait of Belle Isle and Gulf of St. Lawrence to hunt whales. The hunting that occurred during this period is of primary significance for the North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis (Müller, 1776), because it has been interpreted as the largest human-induced reduction of the western North Atlantic population, with ~12250–21 000 whales killed. It has been frequently reported that the Basques targeted two species in this region: the North Atlantic right whale and the bowhead whale, Balaena mysticetus L., 1758. To evaluate this hypothesis and the relative impact of this period of whaling on both species, we collected samples from 364 whale bones during a comprehensive search of Basque whaling ports from the 16th to the 17th century in the Strait of Belle Isle and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Bones were found and sampled at 10 of the 20 sites investigated. DNA was extracted from a subset (n = 218) of these samples. Analysis of the mitochondrial cytochrome b region identified five whale species. The identification of only a single right whale bone and 203 bowhead whale bones from at least 72 individuals indicates that the bowhead whale was likely the principal target of the hunt. These results imply that this whaling had a much greater impact (in terms of numbers of whales removed) on the bowhead whale population than on the western North Atlantic right whale population.
  • Presentation
    Don’t assume it’s ghost gear : accurate gear characterization is critical for entanglement mitigation [poster]
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2017-10-25) Henry, Allison G. ; Barco, Susan G. ; Cole, Tim ; Johnson, Amanda ; Knowlton, Amy R. ; Landry, Scott ; Mattila, David K. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Robbins, Jooke ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Asmutis-Silvia, Regina
    Entanglement is a significant conservation and welfare issue which is limiting the recovery of a number of marine species, including marine mammals. It is therefore important to reliably identify the causes of these events, including the nature of the entangling gear in order to reduce or prevent them in the future. A recently published review of marine debris assessed 76 publications and attributed a total of 1805 cases of cetacean entanglements in “ghost gear”, of which 78% (n=1413) were extracted from 13 peer reviewed publications. We examined the 13 publications cited in the review and found that the specific gear type or status of gear involved in the reported events was rarely mentioned beyond the fact that it was fishing related. This is likely due to the fact that determinations of debris as the entangling material are very difficult. In fact, in reviewing 10 years of large whale entanglement records for the U.S., the authors of another study reported that Hawaii was the only region in which any entangling gear was positively identified as ghost gear. The assumption that entangling gear is marine debris unless otherwise stated is dangerous because it could impact efforts to modify or restrict risk-prone fishing in key marine mammal habitats. Entanglement in actively fished gear poses a very real threat, and claims that only lost or abandoned fishing gear is responsible for entanglements can undermine conservation efforts.
  • Preprint
    Saving endangered whales at no cost
    ( 2006) Myers, Ransom A. ; Boudreau, Stephanie A. ; Kenney, Robert D. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Rosenberg, Andrew A. ; Sherrill-Mix, Scott A. ; Worm, Boris
    The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most critically endangered marine species. Drastic overexploitation has driven this large, slow-swimming baleen whale to virtual extinction in Europe, while a small remnant population of ~350 individuals remains on the U.S. and Canadian east coast. Although this species has been protected for 70 years, recovery has been slight and extinction is still looming because of accidental mortality from shipstrikes and fishing gear (Figure 1A,B). Seventy five percent of appropriately photographed whales show evidence of entanglement, predominantly with lobster fishing gear, and this percentage has increased from 52% in the 1980s. At the same time, the U.S. lobster fishery is severely overexploited (the inshore fishing mortalities in the two main U.S. regions are 0.69 and 0.84, while 0.2 achieves maximum yield per recruit). We argue here that this endangered whale species can be protected from entanglement mortality, and the fishery can benefit simultaneously, by a large reduction of lobster traps used; a classic win–win situation.
  • Article
    Marine vertebrate zoonoses : an overview of the DAO Special Issue
    (Inter-Research, 2008-08-19) Moore, Michael J. ; Gast, Rebecca J. ; Bogomolni, Andrea L.
    The role of marine birds, mammals, turtles and fish as vectors of infectious agents of potential risk to humans can be examined from a variety of perspectives. The studies in this DAO Special include a broad survey of multiple agents and species, a sequencing study of Giardia intestinalis haplotypes known to be pathogenic to humans, an assessment of risks to humans working with marine mammals, a source tracking study using E. coli ribotypes, studies of regional Salmonella and Brucella epizootiology, a serology survey and a case report of a herpes simplex infection in a dolphin. Additionally, a recently published study (Venn-Watson et al. 2008; Dis Aquat Org 79:87–93) classifying pure cultures of bacteria from a captive dolphin colony also pertains to this theme. These studies raise the following questions: whether the presence of zoonotic agents in marine vertebrates represents a risk to other marine vertebrates, humans, or both; what are the routes by which these marine vertebrate zoonotic infections are acquired and circulated in the marine ecosystem; to what degree are such agents subclinical versus causes of overt disease in marine vertebrates; what are the subsets of the human population most likely to be affected by such infections; and which human health preventive measures would seem reasonable?
  • Article
    Fecal glucocorticoids and anthropogenic injury and mortality in North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis
    (Inter-Research, 2017-11-30) Rolland, Rosalind M. ; McLellan, William A. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Harms, Craig A. ; Burgess, Elizabeth A. ; Hunt, Kathleen E.
    As human impacts on marine ecosystems escalate, there is increasing interest in quantifying sub-lethal physiological and pathological responses of marine mammals. Glucocorticoid hormones are commonly used to assess stress responses to anthropogenic factors in wildlife. While obtaining blood samples to measure circulating hormones is not currently feasible for free-swimming large whales, immunoassay of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCs) has been validated for North Atlantic right whales Eubalaena glacialis (NARW). Using a general linear model, we compared fGC concentrations in right whales chronically entangled in fishing gear (n = 6) or live-stranded (n = 1), with right whales quickly killed by vessels (n = 5) and healthy right whales (n = 113) to characterize fGC responses to acute vs. chronic stressors. fGCs in entangled whales (mean ± SE: 1856.4 ± 1644.9 ng g-1) and the stranded whale (5740.7 ng g-1) were significantly higher than in whales killed by vessels (46.2 ± 19.2 ng g-1) and healthy whales (51.7 ± 8.7 ng g-1). Paired feces and serum collected from the live-stranded right whale provided comparison of fGCs in 2 matrices in a chronically stressed whale. Serum cortisol and corticosterone in this whale (50.0 and 29.0 ng ml-1, respectively) were much higher than values reported in other cetaceans, in concordance with extremely elevated fGCs. Meaningful patterns in fGC concentration related to acute vs. chronic impacts persisted despite potential for bacterial degradation of hormone metabolites in dead whales. These results provide biological validation for using fGCs as a biomarker of chronic stress in NARWs.
  • Article
    Population comparison of right whale body condition reveals poor state of the North Atlantic right whale
    (Inter Research, 2020-04-23) Christiansen, Fredrik ; Dawson, Stephen M. ; Durban, John W. ; Fearnbach, Holly ; Miller, Carolyn A. ; Bejder, Lars ; Uhart, Marcela ; Sironi, Mariano ; Corkeron, Peter ; Rayment, William ; Leunissen, Eva ; Haria, Eashani ; Ward, Rhianne ; Warick, Hunter A. ; Kerr, Iain ; Lynn, Morgan S. ; Pettis, Heather M. ; Moore, Michael J.
    The North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis (NARW), currently numbering <410 individuals, is on a trajectory to extinction. Although direct mortality from ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements remain the major threats to the population, reproductive failure, resulting from poor body condition and sublethal chronic entanglement stress, is believed to play a crucial role in the population decline. Using photogrammetry from unmanned aerial vehicles, we conducted the largest population assessment of right whale body condition to date, to determine if the condition of NARWs was poorer than 3 seemingly healthy (i.e. growing) populations of southern right whales E. australis (SRWs) in Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. We found that NARW juveniles, adults and lactating females all had lower body condition scores compared to the SRW populations. While some of the difference could be the result of genetic isolation and adaptations to local environmental conditions, the magnitude suggests that NARWs are in poor condition, which could be suppressing their growth, survival, age of sexual maturation and calving rates. NARW calves were found to be in good condition. Their body length, however, was strongly determined by the body condition of their mothers, suggesting that the poor condition of lactating NARW females may cause a reduction in calf growth rates. This could potentially lead to a reduction in calf survival or an increase in female calving intervals. Hence, the poor body condition of individuals within the NARW population is of major concern for its future viability.
  • Article
    The use of diagnostic imaging for identifying abnormal gas accumulations in cetaceans and pinnipeds
    (Frontiers Media, 2012-06-06) Dennison, Sophie ; Fahlman, Andreas ; Moore, Michael J.
    Recent dogma suggested that marine mammals are not at risk of decompression sickness due to a number of evolutionary adaptations. Several proposed adaptations exist. Lung compression and alveolar collapse that terminate gas-exchange before a depth is reached where supersaturation is significant and bradycardia with peripheral vasoconstriction affecting the distribution, and dynamics of blood and tissue nitrogen levels. Published accounts of gas and fat emboli and dysbaric osteonecrosis in marine mammals and theoretical modeling have challenged this view-point, suggesting that decompression-like symptoms may occur under certain circumstances, contrary to common belief. Diagnostic imaging modalities are invaluable tools for the non-invasive examination of animals for evidence of gas and have been used to demonstrate the presence of incidental decompression-related renal gas accumulations in some stranded cetaceans. Diagnostic imaging has also contributed to the recognition of clinically significant gas accumulations in live and dead cetaceans and pinnipeds. Understanding the appropriate application and limitations of the available imaging modalities is important for accurate interpretation of results. The presence of gas may be asymptomatic and must be interpreted cautiously alongside all other available data including clinical examination, clinical laboratory testing, gas analysis, necropsy examination, and histology results.
  • Article
    Field energetics and lung function in wild bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in Sarasota Bay Florida
    (Royal Society, 2018-01-17) Fahlman, Andreas ; Brodsky, Micah ; Wells, Randall S. ; McHugh, Katherine ; Allen, Jason ; Barleycorn, Aaron ; Sweeney, Jay C. ; Fauquier, Deborah A. ; Moore, Michael J.
    We measured respiratory flow rates, and expired O2 in 32 (2–34 years, body mass [Mb] range: 73–291 kg) common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) during voluntary breaths on land or in water (between 2014 and 2017). The data were used to measure the resting O2 consumption rate (V˙O2, range: 0.76–9.45ml O2min−1 kg−1) and tidal volume (VT, range: 2.2–10.4 l) during rest. For adult dolphins, the resting VT, but not V˙O2, correlated with body mass (Mb, range: 141–291 kg) with an allometric mass-exponent of 0.41. These data suggest that the mass-specific VT of larger dolphins decreases considerably more than that of terrestrial mammals (mass-exponent: 1.03). The average resting sV˙O2 was similar to previously published metabolic measurements from the same species. Our data indicate that the resting metabolic rate for a 150 kg dolphin would be 3.9 ml O2 min−1 kg−1, and the metabolic rate for active animals, assuming a multiplier of 3–6, would range from 11.7 to 23.4 ml O2 min−1 kg−1.
  • Presentation
    Entanglements of North Atlantic right whales increase as their distribution shifts in response to climate change: The need for a new management paradigm [poster]
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2019-12-09) Pendleton, Daniel ; Pettis, Heather M. ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Knowlton, Amy R. ; Landry, Scott ; Moore, Michael J. ; McLellan, William A. ; Corkeron, Peter ; Kraus, Scott D.
    Detection rate of severely injured or entangled NARWs began to increase around 2004 - 2007.
  • Article
    Compositional discrimination of decompression and decomposition gas bubbles in bycaught seals and dolphins
    (Public Library of Science, 2013-12-19) Bernaldo de Quirós, Yara ; Seewald, Jeffrey S. ; Sylva, Sean P. ; Greer, William ; Niemeyer, Misty E. ; Bogomolni, Andrea L. ; Moore, Michael J.
    Gas bubbles in marine mammals entangled and drowned in gillnets have been previously described by computed tomography, gross examination and histopathology. The absence of bacteria or autolytic changes in the tissues of those animals suggested that the gas was produced peri- or post-mortem by a fast decompression, probably by quickly hauling animals entangled in the net at depth to the surface. Gas composition analysis and gas scoring are two new diagnostic tools available to distinguish gas embolisms from putrefaction gases. With this goal, these methods have been successfully applied to pathological studies of marine mammals. In this study, we characterized the flux and composition of the gas bubbles from bycaught marine mammals in anchored sink gillnets and bottom otter trawls. We compared these data with marine mammals stranded on Cape Cod, MA, USA. Fresh animals or with moderate decomposition (decomposition scores of 2 and 3) were prioritized. Results showed that bycaught animals presented with significantly higher gas scores than stranded animals. Gas composition analyses indicate that gas was formed by decompression, confirming the decompression hypothesis.
  • Preprint
    Changes in persistent contaminant concentration and CYP1A1 protein expression in biopsy samples from northern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, following the onset of nearby oil and gas development
    ( 2007-05-09) Hooker, Sascha K. ; Metcalfe, Tracy L. ; Metcalfe, Chris D. ; Angell, Carolyn M. ; Wilson, Joanna Y. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Whitehead, Hal
    A small population of endangered northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) inhabits “The Gully” Marine Protected Area on the Scotian Shelf, eastern Canada. Amid concerns regarding nearby oil and gas development, we took 36 skin and blubber biopsy samples in 1996-97 (prior to major development) and 2002-03 (five years after development began), and 3 samples from a population in the Davis Strait, Labrador in 2003. These were analysed for cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) protein expression (n=36), and for persistent contaminants (n=23). CYP1A1 showed generally low expression in whales from The Gully, but higher levels during 2003, potentially co-incident with recorded oil spills, and higher levels in Davis Strait whales. A range of PCB congeners and organochlorine compounds were detected, with concentrations similar to other North Atlantic odontocetes. Concentrations were higher in whales from The Gully than from the Davis Strait, with significant increases in 4,4’-DDE and trans-nonachlor in 2002-03 relative to 1996-97.
  • Preprint
    Static inflation and deflation pressure–volume curves from excised lungs of marine mammals
    ( 2011-06-28) Fahlman, Andreas ; Loring, Stephen H. ; Ferrigno, Massimo ; Moore, Colby D. ; Early, Greg A. ; Niemeyer, Misty E. ; Lentell, Betty J. ; Wenzel, Frederick W. ; Joy, Ruth ; Moore, Michael J.
    Excised lungs from 8 marine mammal species (harp [Pagophilus groenlandicus], harbor [Phoca vitulina], and gray seal [Halichoerus grypus], Atlantic white-sided [Lagenorhynchus acutus], common [Delphinus delphis] and Risso's dolphin [Grampus griseus], long finned pilot whale [Globicephala melas], and harbor porpoise [Phocoena phocoena]) were used to determine minimum air volume of the relaxed lung (MAV, n = 15) and the elastic properties (pressure-volume curves, n = 24) of the respiratory system, and total lung capacity (TLC). Our data indicate that mass-specific TLC (sTLC, l • kg-1) does not differ between species or groups (odontocete vs. phocid) and agree with that estimated (TLCest) from body mass (Mb) by: TLCest = 0.135 • Mb 0.92. Measured MAV was on average 7% of TLC, with a range from 0% to 16%. The pressure-volume curves were similar among species on inflation but diverged during deflation in phocids as compared with odontocetes. These differences provide a structural basis for observed species differences in depth at which lungs collapse and gas exchange ceases.
  • Article
    Assessing North Atlantic Right whale health: a review of threats, and development of tools critical for conservation of the species
    (Inter Research, 2021-02-25) Moore, Michael J. ; Rowles, Teresa K. ; Fauquier, Deborah A. ; Baker, Jason T. ; Biedron, Ingrid S. ; Durban, John W. ; Hamilton, Philip K. ; Henry, Allison G. ; Knowlton, Amy R. ; McLellan, William A. ; Miller, Carolyn A. ; Pace, Richard M., III ; Pettis, Heather M. ; Raverty, Stephen A. ; Rolland, Rosalind M. ; Schick, Robert S. ; Sharp, Sarah M. ; Smith, Cynthia R. ; Thomas, Len ; van der Hoop, Julie M. ; Ziccard, Michael H.
    Whaling decimated North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis - NARW) since the 11th century and southern right whales (E. australis - SRW) since the 19th century. Today, NARWs are critically endangered and decreasing, whereas SRWs are recovering. We review NARW health assessment literature, NARW Consortium databases, and efforts and limitations to monitor individual and species health, survival, and fecundity. Photographs are used to track individual movement and external signs of health such as evidence of vessel and entanglement trauma. Post mortem examinations establish cause of death and determine organ pathology. Photogrammetry is used to assess growth rates and body condition. Samples of blow, skin, blubber, baleen and feces quantify hormones that provide information on stress, reproduction, and nutrition, identify microbiome changes, and assess evidence of infection. We also discuss models of the population consequences of multiple stressors, including the connection between human activities (e.g., entanglement) and health. Lethal and sublethal vessel and entanglement trauma have been identified as major threats to the species. There is a clear and immediate need for expanding trauma reduction measures. Beyond these major concerns, further study is needed to evaluate the impact of other stressors, such as pathogens, microbiome changes, and algal and industrial toxins, on NARW reproductive success and health. Current and new health assessment tools should be developed and used to monitor the effectiveness of management measures, and will help determine whether they are sufficient for a substantive species recovery.
  • Article
    Longitudinal progesterone profiles in baleen from female North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) match known calving history
    (Oxford University Press, 2016-03) Hunt, Kathleen E. ; Lysiak, Nadine S. J. ; Moore, Michael J. ; Rolland, Rosalind M.
    Reproduction of mysticete whales is difficult to monitor, and basic parameters, such as pregnancy rate and inter-calving interval, remain unknown for many populations. We hypothesized that baleen plates (keratinous strips that grow downward from the palate of mysticete whales) might record previous pregnancies, in the form of high-progesterone regions in the sections of baleen that grew while the whale was pregnant. To test this hypothesis, longitudinal baleen progesterone profiles from two adult female North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) that died as a result of ship strike were compared with dates of known pregnancies inferred from calf sightings and post-mortem data. We sampled a full-length baleen plate from each female at 4 cm intervals from base (newest baleen) to tip (oldest baleen), each interval representing ∼60 days of baleen growth, with high-progesterone areas then sampled at 2 or 1 cm intervals. Pulverized baleen powder was assayed for progesterone using enzyme immunoassay. The date of growth of each sampling location on the baleen plate was estimated based on the distance from the base of the plate and baleen growth rates derived from annual cycles of stable isotope ratios. Baleen progesterone profiles from both whales showed dramatic elevations (two orders of magnitude higher than baseline) in areas corresponding to known pregnancies. Baleen hormone analysis shows great potential for estimation of recent reproductive history, inter-calving interval and general reproductive biology in this species and, possibly, in other mysticete whales.
  • Article
    Criteria and case definitions for serious injury and death of pinnipeds and cetaceans caused by anthropogenic trauma
    (Inter-Research, 2013-04-11) Moore, Michael J. ; van der Hoop, Julie ; Barco, Susan G. ; Costidis, Alexander M. ; Gulland, Frances M. ; Jepson, Paul D. ; Moore, Kathleen M. T. ; Raverty, Stephen A. ; McLellan, William A.
    Post-mortem examination of dead and live stranded beach-cast pinnipeds and cetaceans for determination of a cause of death provides valuable information for the management, mitigation and prosecution of unintentional and sometimes malicious human impacts, such as vessel collision, fishing gear entanglement and gunshot. Delayed discovery, inaccessibility, logistics, human safety concerns, and weather make these events challenging. Over the past 3 decades, in response to public concern and federal and state or provincial regulations mandating such investigations to inform mitigation efforts, there has been an increasing effort to objectively and systematically investigate these strandings from a diagnostic and forensic perspective. This Theme Section provides basic investigative methods, and case definitions for each of the more commonly recognized case presentations of human interactions in pinnipeds and cetaceans. Wild animals are often adversely affected by factors such as parasitism, anthropogenic contaminants, biotoxins, subclinical microbial infections and competing habitat uses, such as prey depletion and elevated background and episodic noise. Understanding the potential contribution of these subclinical factors in predisposing or contributing to a particular case of trauma of human origin is hampered, especially where putrefaction is significant and resources as well as expertise are limited. These case criteria descriptions attempt to acknowledge those confounding factors to enable an appreciation of the significance of the observed human-derived trauma in that broader context where possible.