Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 827–834 | Cite as

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

  • Spencer E. Fire
  • Deborah Fauquier
  • Leanne J. Flewelling
  • Michael Henry
  • Jerome Naar
  • Richard Pierce
  • Randall S. Wells
Research Article

Abstract

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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Spencer E. Fire
    • 1
    • 2
  • Deborah Fauquier
    • 1
  • Leanne J. Flewelling
    • 3
  • Michael Henry
    • 1
  • Jerome Naar
    • 4
  • Richard Pierce
    • 1
  • Randall S. Wells
    • 5
  1. 1.Mote Marine LaboratorySarasotaUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biotoxins Program, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular ResearchNOAA National Ocean ServiceCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research InstituteSt PetersburgUSA
  4. 4.Center for Marine ScienceUniversity of North Carolina at WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  5. 5.Chicago Zoological Society, c/o Mote Marine LaboratorySarasotaUSA

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