Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

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Publication Title

Journal of Aquatic Animal Health



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Species-specific hematological reference values are essential for diagnosis and treatment of disease and maintaining overall health of animals. This information is lacking for many species of elasmobranchs maintained in zoos and aquaria, thus reducing the effectiveness of care for these animals. Descriptive statistics and reference intervals were calculated for hematocrit and complete blood cell counts, biochemistry and protein electrophoresis parameters, trace minerals, vitamins, heavy metals, reproductive hormones, and fatty acids in the blood of 153 wild Sand Tigers Carcharias taurus of both sexes and a range of sizes caught in Delaware Bay (Delaware, USA). Mean hematocrit, total white blood cell counts, lymphocyte differentials, glucose, phosphorous, amylase, and aspartate aminotransferase levels were significantly higher in juveniles than in adults. Levels of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone and differences in selenium, and the polyunsaturated fatty acid 20:5n3 (eicosapentaeonic acid) between males and females suggest that they are important parameters for improving Sand Tiger breeding success in managed care. Finally, blood metal levels for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury suggest low levels of contaminant exposure of Sand Tigers in Delaware Bay during their summer residence in the bay. The results of this study provide baseline health parameters for wild Sand Tigers that will aid in effective maintenance of aquarium animals and that contributes to a greater understanding of the biology of these sharks and efforts to accomplish sustainable management of their populations.



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