[MARMAM] Body Condition Scoring in Delphinus

Michael Moore mmoore at whoi.edu
Fri Jun 12 06:43:04 PDT 2015

Just published Open Access in Journal of Marine Animals and Their 
Ecology 2014;7(2): 5-13
It can be downloaded by going to: 

Body Condition Scoring System for Delphinids Based on Short-beaked
Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis)
Melissa J. Joblon1, Mark A. Pokras1, Brendan Morse3, Charles T. Harry2, 
Kathryn S. Rose2, Sarah M. Sharp1,
Misty E. Niemeyer2, Kristen M. Patchett2, W. Brian Sharp2, Michael J. Moore4
1 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University,
200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA
2 International Fund for Animal Welfare, Marine Mammal Rescue and 
Research Division,
290 Summer St., Yarmouth Port, MA 02675, USA
3 Bridgewater State University, Department of Psychology, 131 Summer 
St., Bridgewater, MA 02325, USA
4 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 86 Water Street, Woods Hole, MA 
02543, USA
Assessment of body condition is critical for examination of
live and dead dolphins. Using live and dead stranded and dead
bycaught short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from
New England waters, a simple, practical body condition scoring
(BCS) system was developed that has utility for all delphinid
species. Using photographs, a non-invasive, 4-point visual scale was
created based on anatomical landmarks which are indicative of body
condition and emaciation. The consistency of using this BCS system
was tested via a blind study with five trained and experienced
stranding responders independently scoring a subset of D. delphis
cases (n=30) using photo documentation only, and results showed a
significant level of agreement among observers. Specific
morphometric data relating to body condition were analyzed to
determine parameters which, in association with the clinical
evaluation of the animal, may be indicative of potential success after
release during a live stranding event. Results showed a significant
difference in length-to-girth ratios in both the axilla and anterior
dorsal fin regions between animals which were released (mean for
axilla: single stranded 1.75, mass stranded 1.76; mean for dorsal fin:
single stranded 1.79, mass stranded 1.76) and those that died or
were deemed unreleasable and euthanized (mean for axilla: single
stranded 2.03, mass stranded 1.99; mean for dorsal fin: single
stranded 1.99, mass stranded 1.87). Future studies are needed to
validate the BCS system and its ability to predict such
morphometric parameters and relative health. Use of this BCS
system will allow for consistency in determining body condition in
delphinid species, thus enabling stranding response agencies to
better compare data relating to health and nutritional status in these
animals. [JMATE 2014;7(2): 5-13]

Michael Moore mmoore at whoi.edu

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