Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 827–834

Brevetoxin exposure in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) associated with Karenia brevis blooms in Sarasota Bay, Florida


    • Mote Marine Laboratory
    • Marine Biotoxins Program, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular ResearchNOAA National Ocean Service
  • Deborah Fauquier
    • Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Leanne J. Flewelling
    • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research Institute
  • Michael Henry
    • Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Jerome Naar
    • Center for Marine ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • Richard Pierce
    • Mote Marine Laboratory
  • Randall S. Wells
    • Chicago Zoological Society, c/o Mote Marine Laboratory
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00227-007-0733-x

Cite this article as:
Fire, S.E., Fauquier, D., Flewelling, L.J. et al. Mar Biol (2007) 152: 827. doi:10.1007/s00227-007-0733-x


Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) face a variety of threats, including risk of exposure to brevetoxins produced by blooms of the harmful alga Karenia brevis. This study investigated brevetoxin exposure in a population of dolphins inhabiting Sarasota Bay, Florida, USA (27°N, 82°W), utilizing tissues from dolphins recovered between 1994 and 2003. Brevetoxin levels detected by ELISA in tissues, gastric samples and excreta from dolphin carcasses (n = 19) associated with K. brevis blooms were compared with with levels in carcasses (n = 16) associated with background K. brevis conditions. In the K. brevis-exposed set, 84% of dolphin carcasses recovered during K. brevis blooms had detectable brevetoxin levels, with values ranging between 7 and 2,896 ng PbTx-3 eq g−1. Over 50% of dolphin carcasses recovered during non-bloom conditions also tested positive by ELISA for brevetoxins, with concentrations ranging from 6 to 44 ng PbTx-3 eq g−1. Control samples from the east coast of Florida were negative by the ELISA. Results from this study establish baseline brevetoxin body burdens in a dolphin population frequently exposed to K. brevis blooms, and data indicate that dolphin carcasses not associated with large-scale mortality events can contain levels of brevetoxins comparable to carcasses stranding during such events.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007