Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1677–1680 | Cite as

Use of blubber levels of progesterone to determine pregnancy in free-ranging live cetaceans

  • Sergi PérezEmail author
  • Ángel García-López
  • Renaud De Stephanis
  • Joan Giménez
  • Susana García-Tiscar
  • Philippe Verborgh
  • Juan Miguel Mancera
  • Gonzalo Martínez-Rodriguez
Short Communication


We tested the possibility of measuring progesterone levels in bubbler samples collected from free-ranging live bottlenose dolphins (n = 11) and long-finned pilot whales (n = 2) as a tool to evaluate the pregnancy status of individuals. Samples were collected during January 2004 and September–October 2005 in the Strait of Gibraltar and Gulf of Cadiz and used for sex-determination by genetic methods (skin samples) and for quantification of progesterone levels by enzyme immunoassay. Photo-identification tracking of females after taking the biopsy was used to observe the presence of newborns and, in this way, to determine if the female was pregnant at the time of sampling. Mean progesterone levels from pregnant bottlenose dolphins (n = 2) were around 9 times higher than those from non-pregnant females (n = 9), with no overlap between concentration ranges demonstrating that this method could constitute an effective tool for determining pregnancy in wild populations of bottlenose dolphins and other cetacean species.


Progesterone Level Bottlenose Dolphin Progesterone Concentration Minke Whale Gray Whale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Our study was made possible due to the financial support received during several cetacean campaigns in the Iberian Peninsula. We thank the Foundation Loro Parque, the Foundation Biodiversidad and CEPSA. This work would not have been possible without the help of different volunteers and researchers, especially to R. Esteban, N. Seller Fernandez, Z. Munilla, Y. Yaget, C. Corbella, C. Jiménez, D. Alarcon, M. Carbó, S. Villar, and N. Pérez.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergi Pérez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ángel García-López
    • 2
  • Renaud De Stephanis
    • 3
  • Joan Giménez
    • 1
  • Susana García-Tiscar
    • 4
  • Philippe Verborgh
    • 1
  • Juan Miguel Mancera
    • 5
  • Gonzalo Martínez-Rodriguez
    • 2
  1. 1.CIRCE (Conservation, Information and Research on Cetaceans)CádizSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasPuerto Real, CádizSpain
  3. 3.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana, CSICIsla de la Cartuja, SevillaSpain
  4. 4.Department of EcologyUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  5. 5.Departamento de BiologíaFacultad de Ciencias del Mar y Ambientales, Polígono Universitario Río San PedroPuerto Real, CádizSpain

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