[MARMAM] New paper on dental damage in captive orcas

Carolina Loch Silva lochcarolina at gmail.com
Tue Oct 10 23:29:14 PDT 2017

Dear MARMAM subscribers,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce the publication of the
following paper in the current issue of the Archives of Oral Biology:

*Tooth damage in captive orcas (Orcinus orca)*

John Jett, Ingrid N. Visser, Jeffrey Ventre, Jordan Waltz, Carolina Loch

doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2017.09.031


Objectives: Tooth damage as a result of oral stereotypies is evident in
captive orca, yet little research on the topic exists. This study examines
the associations between dental pathology, sex, facility, duration of
captivity and other factors in captive orca.

Design: We evaluated mandibular and maxillary teeth from dental images of
29 captive orca owned by a US based theme park. Each tooth was scored for
coronal wear, wear at or below gum line and bore holes. Fractured and
missing teeth were also noted. Summary statistics described the
distribution and severity of pathologies; inferential statistics examined
how pathologies differed between sexes, between wild-captured and
captive-born orcas and between captive orca at four facilities. We also
evaluated how dental pathology and duration of captivity were related.

Results: Approximately 24% of whales exhibited “major” to “extreme”
mandibular coronal tooth wear, with coronal wear and wear at or below gum
line highly correlated. More than 60% of mandibular teeth 2 and 3 exhibited
fractures. Bore holes were observed primarily among anterior mandibular
teeth, with more than 61% of teeth 2 and 3 bearing evidence of having been
drilled. Four of five orca with the highest age-adjusted tooth pathology
indices were captive-born.

Conclusions: Various dental pathologies were observed across all whales,
with pathologies beginning at a young age. Oral stereotypies exhibited by
captive orca contributed to the observed dental damage. By making dental
and health records of captive whales publicly available, the theme park
industry is uniquely positioned to provide further insight into dental
pathology and resultant health consequences in captive orca.

Full text is available at:

Or alternatively, a *pdf* can be requested at: carolina.loch at otago.ac.nz

Best regards,


Carolina Loch Silva, PhD

Lecturer in Oral Biology

Department of Oral Sciences

Sir John Walsh Research Institute

Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago

Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

Phone: +(64) 03 479-9255

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