Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 130–134

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


  • S. A. Rommel
    • Department of BiologyJames Madison University
  • D. A. Pabst
    • Department of BiologyJames Madison University
  • W. A. McLellan
    • Department of BiologyJames Madison University
  • T. M. Williams
    • Hawaii LaboratoryNaval Oceans Systems Center
  • W. A. Friedl
    • Hawaii LaboratoryNaval Oceans Systems Center

DOI: 10.1007/BF00301654

Cite this article as:
Rommel, S.A., Pabst, D.A., McLellan, W.A. et al. J Comp Physiol B (1994) 164: 130. doi:10.1007/BF00301654


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.

Key words

ThermoregulationCountercurrent heat exchangeTestisClinical assessmentDolphin, Tursiops



body weight


countercurrent heat exchanger


water temperature


air temperature


body temperature(s)


colonic temperature(s)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994