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IVIR In the News

U.S. National Marine Animal Health and Stranding Network Conference
September 7, 2016
Three IVIR alumni attended the U.S. National Marine Animal Health and Stranding Network Conference, held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in September. This conference is held once every five years so that marine mammal stranding veterinarians, biologists and stranding responders from around the world can share their knowledge about marine mammal and sea turtle health.

Dr. Daniela Barcenas from Mexico gave a presentation entitled “Joint efforts for internationalization of new techniques for disentanglement of sea lions.” She shared the project that The Marine Mammal Center and Cientenela have developed to use remote sedation to disentangle California sea lions in Baja California, Mexico.

Dr. Mauricio Ulloa from Chile presented a poster entitled “Unusual mass mortality event of sei whales in southern Chile.” He has been part of the team investigating the largest die-off of baleen whales in recorded history and reported about the expedition he took to southern Chile to collect samples.

Dr. Rachawadee “Bee” Chantra from Thailand presented a poster entitled “Understanding harbor porpoise trauma cases in northern California through necropsy and dolphin sighting data.” During her time as an IVIR, she completed a research project to better understand the trauma harbor porpoises experience prior to stranding. The majority of cases appear to be caused by attacks from bottlenose dolphins on the smaller porpoises.

In addition, 19 current and past staff from The Marine Mammal Center also attended and presented scientific research at the conference. The Center’s staff and volunteers are proud of all of the work our IVIR alumni are doing to further marine mammal conservation around the world.

From left: Dr. Daniela Barcenas presents about sea lion disentanglement in Mexico; Dr. Mauricio Ulloa presents about sei whale mortality in Chile; Dr. Bee Chantra presents about harbor porpoise trauma in San Francisco Bay; The Marine Mammal Center staff present and past attend the U.S. Marine Animal Health and Stranding Conference 2016. (Photos by Claire Simeone © The Marine Mammal Center)

California sea lions with painful eye diseases

March 1, 2016
During her residency at The Marine Mammal Center in 2014, IVIR alumna Dr. Josefina Gutiérrez pursued a research project to help California sea lions with painful eye diseases. The eye of a sea lion can be difficult to evaluate because they have a strong blink reflex and a very small pupil. Dr. Gutiérrez studied the anatomy of the sea lion eye and developed local anesthetic blocks that widen the pupil and eliminate the blink reflex, allowing veterinarians to evaluate the eye and alleviating pain in the process. Her manuscript was recently published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine.

Gutierrez, J., Simeone, C., Gulland, F., Johnson, S. 2016. Development of retrobulbar and auriculopalpebral nerve blocks in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 47(1): 236-243.

Sei Whale Stranding
January 15, 2016
Dr. Mauricio Ulloa is the Chief of the Aquatic Animal Rescue Unit of Sernapesca, the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service of Chile, and a 2014 IVIR alumnus. He recently led an expedition to investigate the largest mass stranding of baleen whales in history. More than 300 sei whales were reported in the Gulf of Penas at the end of 2015. The expedition collected photographic evidence of 70 carcasses, skin samples and stomach contents to try to determine why the animals died. The carcasses were so decomposed that the cause of death is still undetermined.

IVIR Alumnus Dr. Mauricio Ulloa (second from right) plans a route during an expedition to investigate the largest baleen whale mass stranding in history. (Photo Credit: Sernapesca)

The International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine

April 10, 2015
Dr. Josefina Gutiérrez from Chile attended the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine conference held in Chicago in 2015. She gave a presentation entitled “Development of a retrobulbar and auriculopalpebral nerve block in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) using lidocaine,” which described the technique she developed with veterinarians at the Center during her residency in 2014. Local anesthesia can help relieve pain, and allow the eye to be examined and treated.

Dr. Gutiérrez from Chile attended the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine conference in Chicago, Illinois. (Image: IAAAM) At right, a diagram of the eye shows the needle path to anesthetize the muscles around the eye when an animal is under anesthesia. (Diagram by Victoria Saxe, a volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center)


Aventura en una Isla Prístina
June 15, 2015
Dr. Josefina Gutierrez, 2014 alumna of The Marine Mammal Center’s International Veterinary in Residence Program, recently joined Stranding Coordinator Geno DeRango, Veterinarian Dr. Lorraine Barbosa, and a team of Chilean biologists from Universidad Austral for a field project on Guafo Island in southern Chile, studying fur seal health. Biologist Diego Perez wrote an article about the trip in Outdoors magazine (PDF).

"Past the southern tip of Chiloe [in southern Chile] there is a forgotten land, without human presence and dominated by an immense biodiversity. Far from civilization and without communication with the rest of the world, Guafo island an imposing presence in the waters of the Pacific...

The expedition looked to investigate the impact of introduced species, such as rats, on the conservation of birds and marine mammals (specifically fur seals) that inhabit the island. Together with a veterinary team from the Universidad Austral and The Marine Mammal Center in California, we took blood samples from fur seal adults and pups, observing their behavior and determining whether they suffered from any diseases.”

This global partnership is an excellent example of the expertise that The Marine Mammal Center brings to provide veterinary care, training, and support for the science that is being performed worldwide, to better understand the health of marine mammals and the ecosystems in which they live.



SERNAPESCA/University of Chile Agreement
January 15, 2015
In just its second year, the International Veterinary in Residence program has already started to receive international attention.

Dr. Mauricio Ulloa is the Chief of the Aquatic Animal Rescue Unit for SERNAPESCA, which plays a similar role in Chile as the U.S.’s National Marine Fisheries Service. He recently signed an agreement between SERNAPESCA and the University of Chile (in Spanish) to collaborate to protect marine species. 

Read a translation of the agreement here.

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