The objective of this study was to establish reference baseline data for hematologic, biochemical, and cytologic findings in apparently healthy Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. Sixty-two dolphins were captured, examined, and released during June 2003 and June 2004. Mean, standard deviation, and range were calculated for each parameter, and values for which published data were available, were close to or within the ranges previously reported for free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. No pathologic abnormalities were found in fecal and blowhole cytologic specimens. However, 24% (7/29) of the dolphins examined in 2003 had evidence of gastritis, which was graded as severe in 14% (4/29) of the cases. In 2004, only 4% (1/24) of dolphins sampled had evidence of mild or moderate gastritis; no severe inflammation was present. Dolphins with evidence of gastritis were 8 yr of age or older and predominantly male. Several statistically significant differences were found between males and females, between pregnant and nonpregnant animals, and between juveniles (<6 yr) and adults (≥6 yr). However, the values remained within the established ranges for this species, and the differences were not likely to be of clinical significance.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2