, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 130-134

Temperature regulation of the testes of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ): evidence from colonic temperatures

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Dolphins possess a countercurrent heat exchanger that functions to cool their intra-abdominal testes. spermatic arteries in the posterior abdomen are juxtaposed to veins returning cooled blood from the surfaces of the dorsal fin and flukes. A rectal probe housing a linear array of five copper-constantan thermocouples was designed to measure colonic temperatures simultaneously at positions anterior to, within, and posterior to the region of the colon flanked by the countercurrent heat exchanger. Colonic temperatures adjacent to the countercurrent heat exchanger were maximally 1.3°C cooler than temperatures measured outside this region. Temporary heating and cooling of the dorsal fin and flukes affected temperatures at the countercurrent heat exchanger, but had little or no effect on temperatures posterior to its position. These measurements support the hypothesis that cooled blood is introduced into the deep abdominal cavity and functions specifically to regulate the temperature of arterial blood flow to the dolphin testes.