Endocrine disruptions found in bottle nose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are being exposed to chemical compounds added to many common cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care products and plastics, according to a new study in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new research found evidence of exposure to these chemical compounds, called phthalates, in 71 percent of dolphins tested in Sarasota Bay, Florida during 2016 and 2017. Previous studies detected phthalate metabolites in the blubber or skin of a few individual marine mammals, but the new study is the first to document the additives in the urine of wild marine mammals.

Some phthalates have been linked to hormonal, metabolic and reproductive problems in humans, including low sperm count and abnormal development of reproductive organs. The study’s authors do not know what health impacts phthalate compounds may have on dolphins, but the presence of byproducts of the chemicals in the animals’ urine indicates they have remained in the body long enough to process them.

“We focused on urine in dolphins because, in previous studies of humans, that has been the most reliable matrix to indicate short-term exposure.” said Leslie Hart, a public health professor at the College of Charleston and the lead author of the new study.

Studies have linked human exposure to phthalates with use of products containing these additives, such as personal care products and cosmetics, but Hart said the source of dolphin exposure to phthalates is not yet known. Elevated concentrations in dolphin urine of a specific phthalate compound most commonly added to plastics hinted at plastic waste as a possible source of exposure for the dolphins, she said.

“These chemicals can enter marine waters from urban runoff and agricultural or industrial emissions, but we also know that there is a lot of plastic pollution in the environment” said Hart.

Understanding exposure in dolphins gives scientists insight into the contaminants in local waters and what other animals, including humans, are being exposed to, according to the study’s authors.

Gina Ylitalo, an analytical chemist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center who was not involved in the study, said dolphins are good indicators of what is going on in coastal waters.

“Any animals in the near shore environment with similar prey are probably being exposed as well,” she said. “The dolphins are great sentinels of the marine environment.”

Ubiquitous contaminants

Phthalate compounds are added to a wide variety of products to confer flexibility, durability, and lubrication. Some phthalates interfere with body systems designed to receive messages from hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. This can disrupt natural responses to these hormone signals.

Tests for phthalate exposure look for metabolites of the compounds, the products of initial breakdown of the compounds by the liver.

“We are looking for metabolites. These are indicators that the dolphins have been exposed somewhere in their environment and that the body has started to process them,” Hart said.

About 160 dolphins live in Sarasota Bay, a subtropical coastal lagoon tucked between barrier islands and the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton on the southwest coast of Florida. The Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program has tracked individual dolphins since 1970, monitoring their health, behavior, and exposure to contaminants. The dolphins are residents of the area year-round, across multiple decades, with individuals living up to 67 years.

In 2016 and 2017, Hart and her colleagues tested the urine of 17 wild dolphins in and around Sarasota Bay for nine phthalates. They found phthalate metabolites in the urine of 71 percent of the dolphins tested.

Hart compared the dolphin data to human data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which includes information about behavior and diet as well as blood and urine samples from a large cross section of the U.S. population. She found concentrations of one type of phthalate metabolite, monoethyl phthalate (MEP), were much lower in dolphins than in the human population surveyed by NHANES, but concentrations of another type of phthalate metabolite, mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), were equivalent or higher to the levels found in humans.

“If you look at the primary uses of the parent compounds, MEP’s parent is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products including shampoos and body wash, whereas MEHP is a metabolite of a compound commonly added to plastic,” Hart said.

Indicator species

Understanding what dolphins are exposed to gives researchers and the public a better idea of what is in the environment.

The study is particularly valuable because of the long-term data available on the Sarasota dolphins’ health and behavior, said Ylitalo. Bottlenose dolphins are good indicators of pollutant exposure in whales and dolphins that can’t be easily sampled.

“We will not be getting urine samples from killer whales in my neck of the woods,” Ylitalo said. “They don’t know what the health effects are yet, but if any group can do it, it will be these type of folks who start teasing it out.”

Documenting exposure was an important first step, Hart said. She wants to expand the sample size to continue investigating the extent and potential health impacts of exposure and start tracking down possible sources. Ultimately, she hopes this research could be used to help curtail the sources of contamination.

“We’ve introduced these chemicals, they are not natural toxins, and we have the ability to reverse it, to clean this up.” Hart said.

 

source

www.sciencedaily.com

Scientists use drone to sample whale breath and snot To study the microbiome of humpback whales

Scientists flew a small drone over the blowhole of a few humpback whales in the US and Canada to collect the microbes living inside their breath. Sampling the community of microbes and bacteria living inside whales, called the microbiome, can help us better understand what makes a healthy whale, and what happens when a whale gets sick.

In the new research, published this week in the journal mSystems, scientists describe 25 species of microbes found in each humpback’s breath they sampled. Though they don’t know how exactly these organisms affect the health of the whales yet, many of the same microbes are often found in other marine mammals, suggesting they play a role in keeping the animals healthy. The study is also the latest example of how drones can help scientists in their quest to conserve species: in Hawaii, botanists are also using drones to hunt down rare plants in hard-to-reach places like cliffs.

drone2 (1)

Just like humans, animals have a microcosm of organisms inhabiting their bodies — which help keep them healthy. While we’re just starting to explore the human microbiome and its functions, very little is known about the microbiome of whales, especially inside their breathing organs, where a lot of infections occur. So researchers decided to sample the spray of water and snot coming out of the hole atop the whale heads, which the animals use to breathe at the surface.

Usually, whale breath is collected by approaching the animals — which can be up to 60 feet long, in the case of humpbacks — with a small boat, and then holding 23-foot pole with a collection plate above the blowhole. That’s obviously time-consuming and dangerous — for people and whales. In search for a better method, scientists used a remote-controlled hexacopter equipped with a petri dish. They then flew it a few feet over the blowhole of 26 healthy humpback whales off the coast of Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean and Vancouver Island in the Pacific.

dronewhale

The researchers found 25 species of microbes in the breath of all whales, including 20 that were previously found in other marine mammals. That suggests that those organisms are connected to the creatures’ respiratory health, according to the study, although it’s not exactly clear how. But understanding what makes the microbiome of a healthy whale can help us monitor their health, identify dangerous pathogens in the future, and possibly understand how pollutants in the water can affect whales.

That’s key for their conservation. A number of large whales are listed as endangered or critically endangered, including some humpback whale populations off the coast of northwest Africa and Central America.

Sourse: http://www.theverge.com
By 

 

I CAN MAKE YOU A GREAT DOLPHIN TRAINER!

Let’s say you have done your research and you have reached your conclusion… that you want to be a dolphin trainer!

 

This would be my first piece of advice to you.

Observe your animal, bear in mind that all of them have different characters.

Observe the animal you are being assigned very closely, it is important that you observe all of them and the way each one behaves, but in particular, the one you are going to work with. Every time you have any spare time, sit down close to the animal and observe all their behaviours, their body language and interaction with other animals.

Environments affect behaviour, predict your animal’s behaviour, keep your eyes scanning around while working with yours and be aware that another animals’ behaviour affects your animal behaviour. If there is anybody or an even an object around, that your animal is not comfortable with, try to take them to another area or environment where they are more relaxed. As with children, once your animal has realized that you are always protecting them, then they will trust you.

Communication skills are paramount; during your sessions, your animal’s behaviour depends on the quality of the communication you have with other trainers and how aware you are of your surroundings. Anticipation and planning ahead is very important when handling your animal. Dolphins love doing different things, they are very cheeky, they also get bored quickly with the same thing over and over, but when they are learning something new, they are usually concentrated, curious and excited for what may come next. Some behaviours take time and concentration. Take as an example, husbandry behaviours (medical behaviours) these are examples where a high level of concentration from your animal will be required and they also need to be very relaxed.

Before you start training any behaviour, you must communicate with other trainers and let them know how long you are going to take and where the training is going to take place. State the starting time and ending time, before you end, you need to make eye contact with other trainers and let the animals go at the same time, so your animal does not go and interrupt any other trainer’s session. This is the best way of getting the best discipline, instilling good habits in your animals that results in a good quality training session and a positive outcome for all.

Do not copy other trainers, do not assume because the animal you are working with would let another trainer to put their hand in their mouth you can do the same. Different animals have different relationships with other trainers, you must gain and build your animals trust and this will depend on the way that you treat them, just like any other human or animal interaction. Observe the best trainers work, but do not confuse the best one with the one in charge. Observe closely and choose what would you do different, take a notepad with you and write it down, one day you will need it.

Many trainers underestimate and misunderstand the importance of Operant Condition (Positive Reinforcement), when to use it and how to use it. Some trainers just read through it to “tick that box,” but there is a big different between reading it to pass a test, perhaps making your supervisor happy or to take him/her off your back and really using it properly. Supervisors and other trainers, should be watching each other and making sure that everything is right and that your work is acceptable. To assist you, they should always make sure, that the other trainers handle their animals fairly and in the best way possible, especially if you are a new assistant. Trainers must learn the techniques of positive reinforcement to apply it successfully, for the benefit of the animals and you.

 

What to do in a competitive environment such as a dolphin training job?

Responsibilities: this is what is going to set you apart from the crowd and so you are not classified as just being one of the usual group of trainers.

Be independent: consistent, practice good discipline, but also be very patient with your animal and others.

Be confident: trust yourself, do what your gut tells you, usually when you have researched well and apply good principles, it is the right thing to do.

Ask: if you have doubts; ask, there is not such a thing as silly questions.

Improve:  progress is what makes people happy, make sure you are going forward and improving your skills.

Study: make sure you find time to study, allocate the best time for you to improve your knowledge. The world is constantly evolving, updating information with new research, so you need to keep your knowledge fresh.

Want it: make sure whatever you do is the best for you and then do it to the best of your abilities. Whatever the circumstances, never think you are not capable of doing whatever you desire. You just have to want it!

 

 

The true story of becoming a dolphin trainer

The story nobody mentions…

Are you ready to become a dolphin Trainer?

But, wait!

There are some things you should know before…

You must know all the stages they go through before they reach the end goal!

 1st stage

Most of beginners start by showing off with the animals, but that is just a honey moon process, a period when you just want to play with them and do whatever you like, of course! according to the rules, you feel like having all the fun possible. After six months, it all starts to fade away, at the end of that period new trainers or assistant trainers start to realize that it takes a lot of work to keep it up, they also start understanding that is very strenuous and highly demanding, energy wise.

 2nd stage

When you have been a year in the job and all your enthusiasm had levelled off and you get tired of been smelly, not having pretty nails in the case of the girls, not having pretty hair, not been able to wear high heels, because you have spent ten hours treading in deep water. Then you stop…and think, asking yourself…hmmm…is this really for me?

 3rd stage

The whole process is normal and very common, around 30% of trainers make it and stick with it, those who do make it, fall in love with the animals and don’t care about the rest, it is kind of like a drug, the more they do it, the more you want to do it, the beautiful thing is that its becomes a long live skills and career, it ends up not being a job anymore, it turns into your passion forever.

There is nothing or anybody who can turn you away from it!

Female trainers take it very seriously, their maternal instinct makes them protect the animals as if they were their babies, providing the best care for them. Management knows that and that is why you see must of animal carer staff are Females.

When you are working as a dolphin trainer after fifteen or twenty years, you kind of stop and think again, did I have enough?

Some of the trainers wants to go on doing it, but on another level and not far away from the animals.

Well, guess what!… at this stage, you would only find that 15% of them reach the end goal.

I have the feeling and I think I know what you might be thinking!

Well… if only 15% reach the end goal, why would I even bother to try?

How do you know you are not in the 15%?

I say, why wouldn’t you try?

Happiness is who you become after trying those little things that call your attention and things that you like and enjoy doing the most, that is called passion, that is your blue print… your purpose in live.

What if you really like it?

Believe me, I am in the 15% and it’s very much worth a try, it’s one of the most rewarding, beautiful and important decisions I have ever made in my live.

No regrets whatsoever!

Love it!

Hey, listen… if you really like it, go for it!

At the end of the day, human spirit is the hardest thing to kill on earth, not even you could kill it.

It will bite you back one day…

 

Wish you good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Does a Dolphin Trainer Get Paid?

In a 2011 report by Dana Severson on an overview of trainer’s salaries, animal trainers earned an average of $30,510 a year, this was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salaries can be higher or lower than this average but this average is an indication of a trainer’s earnings.

A previous 2007 survey conducted by the Dolphin Research Center found that salaries for dolphin trainers vary from facility to facility, but the average was between $18,000 and $20,000 a year. After eight to twelve years of experience, salaries increased to a range of $25,000 to $40,000 annually.

As with any job, your choice of employer can affect salaries, and dolphin trainers are no exception. For example, a dolphin trainer at Sea World can make $40,000 to $60,000 a year, says Mary Sears, a dolphin trainer at Sea World’s Dolphin Interaction program, on the California Travel Expert website.

SimplyHired.com listed the average salary for marine trainers as $45,000 in 2011, though this is generally considered on the high end of the marine mammal trainer salary range.

My view

It is important you to bear in mind, that trainer’s salary also reflect the cost of living in each particular country. Those working in a foreign country as a necessity, need a return ticket to their own country and a place to stay as minimum.

Money is not the only consideration, it is very important that you are able to develop in your role, so that you can give the best of your qualities, to the facility. So that YOU can make a positive difference you need to be in a positive and comfortable environment. You can deliver tasks of a higher quality, with a greater level of communication and positivity amongst colleagues. Management support and appreciation will play an important role on your input and results and how motivated you are for the work you do after each strenuous-working day, whatever salary you are paid.

Do not forget…what you put in is what you will get back…

Whatever your responsibilities are, make sure you give the best of you to the animals when you are fully engaged with them, your state of mind will reflect on them, especially because some can sense your emotions and the right thoughts and emotions, ultimately will avoid future difficulties.

 

Source :http://work.chron.com

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A DOLPHIN TRAINER?

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A DOLPHIN TRAINER?

misty-baby

If you think you have it, then there are some things you should know.

Many of you have the passion, but you have been told, that you need to have a degree or any number of courses to become a dolphin trainer. If anybody told you that, don`t let it stop you!

In my opinion many persons even with degrees, who try very hard, are not successful. Sometimes the job is too hard, because they cannot deal with the high level of customer service skill that is required. They may not have the stamina or the charisma, which is so important for the job and worse of all, they cannot make a connection with the animals! Don’t get disheartened and do not give up so easily. I know it`s very hard to find all these characteristics in one person, but believe me, there are many people out there who come pretty close and don`t forget, if you are open minded, then you are trainable…ha-ha.

I will acknowledge a degree is commendable, we all know the importance of having a good educational background, but consider the following; what if you study for three or four years, only find out after you have invested so much effort, that this is not the job for you? Better to try out the type of career, with hands on experience.

I believe the best way to find out is, take a part time job, work experience, perhaps take a gap year before you start your studies and give it a try.  You will soon find out if it is for you or not. If this is really your passion, if you really want to be a dolphin trainer, you should be sure before you commit to it. Remember striving for what you enjoy and really want, usually results in achieving it faster.

If you are still in doubt or are not sure about what to do, just write to me and I can help advise you with tips or experience that can help guide you.