[MARMAM] New Publication and Animated Video Abstract: Diving Related Changes in the Blood Oxygen Stores of Rehabilitating Harbor Seal Pups

Amber Thomas athomas6 at une.edu
Thu Jun 25 15:47:25 PDT 2015

Dear colleagues,

My co-author, Dr. Kathryn Ono, and I are pleased to announce the recent publication of our manuscript: Diving Related Changes in the Blood Oxygen Stores of Rehabilitating Harbor Seal Pups (Phoca vitulina).

In an effort to make this information as easily accessible to scientists and the general public as possible, I have also created a brief animated video abstract to describe our main findings.  Since this is a new form of science communication, I'd love any feedback you may have (either email me at athomas6 at une.edu or reach out to me on Twitter @ProQuesAsker).

To watch the video: https://youtu.be/CjQW-6D68kw

To read the paper: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128930

To see our raw data: <http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1309301> http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1309301

Abstract: Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pups begin diving within hours of birth, stimulating the development of the blood oxygen (O2) stores necessary to sustain underwater aerobic metabolism. Since harbor seals experience a brief nursing period, the early-life development of these blood O2stores is necessary for successful post-weaning foraging. If mothers and pups become prematurely separated, the pup may be transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center for care. Previous studies suggest that the shallow pools and lack of diving in rehabilitation facilities may lead to under-developed blood O2 stores, but diving behavior during rehabilitation has not been investigated. This study aimed to simultaneously study the diving behaviors and blood O2 store development of rehabilitating harbor seal pups. Standard hematology measurements (Hct, Hb, RBC, MCV, MCH, MCHC) were taken to investigate O2 storage capacity and pups were equipped with time-depth recorders to investigate natural diving behavior while in rehabilitation. Linear mixed models of the data indicate that all measured blood parameters changed with age; however, when compared to literature values for wild harbor seal pups, rehabilitating pups have smaller red blood cells (RBCs) that can store less hemoglobin (Hb) and subsequently, less O2, potentially limiting their diving capabilities. Wild pups completed longer dives at younger ages (maximum reported <25 days of age: 9 min) in previous studies than the captive pups in this study (maximum <25 days of age: 2.86 min). However, captivity may only affect the rate of development, as long duration dives were observed (maximum during rehabilitation: 13.6 min at 89 days of age). Further, this study suggests that there may be a positive relationship between RBC size and the frequency of long duration dives. Thus, rehabilitating harbor seal pups should be encouraged to make frequent, long duration dives to prepare themselves for post-release foraging.

Thank you!



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