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Investigating cetacean health – guidelines and case studies in WA dolphins

Stephens, N. (2014) Investigating cetacean health – guidelines and case studies in WA dolphins. In: Proceedings of the AVA Annual Conference, 25 - 30 May, Perth, Western Australia

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The rationale for clinical trials in veterinary research is clear. However, the rationale for cetacean health research may not be as obvious. Firstly, it adds important information to population biology, ecology and behavioural studies. Secondly, it informs conservation efforts, in particular work surrounding laws and guidelines. Thirdly, it allows scientists to connect to the public via education and outreach tools; such citizen science programs are both a means and an end, serving to engage the public, but also generating great baseline data that researchers can draw on. And, finally, cetaceans are marine and estuarine environmental sentinels. As long-lived apex predators, they accumulate organic and inorganic contaminants, particularly because they range within coastal and estuarine areas near human population centres. Cetaceans are therefore ‘biological sentinels,’ i.e. good indicators of mid- to long-term changes in their ecosystems and the overall health of that area. Thus, useful information regarding ecosystem health can be gained in studying cetacean health.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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