Age and Sexual Maturity Estimation of Stranded Striped Dolphins, Stenella coeruleoalba, Infected with Brucella ceti

Age parameters in cetaceans allow examining conservation and studying individuals with growth affection. The age and sexual maturity of 51 stranded Stenella coeruleoalba striped dolphins from the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) of Costa Rica, most suffering brucellosis (95.6%), were assessed. In o...

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Main Authors: Roca‑Monge, Karol, González-Barrientos, Rocío, Suárez Esquivel, Marcela, Palacios Alfaro, José David, Castro Ramírez, Laura, Jiménez Soto, Mauricio, Cordero‑Chavarría, Minor, García-Párraga, Daniel, Barratclough, Ashley, Moreno, Edgardo, Hernández-Mora, Gabriela
Format: Artículo
Language: Inglés
Published: MDPI 2023
Subjects:
Online Access: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/oceans
http://hdl.handle.net/11056/24910
https://doi.org/ 10.3390/oceans3040033
Summary: Age parameters in cetaceans allow examining conservation and studying individuals with growth affection. The age and sexual maturity of 51 stranded Stenella coeruleoalba striped dolphins from the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) of Costa Rica, most suffering brucellosis (95.6%), were assessed. In order to ascertain the dolphins’ ages, we measured the length and growth of dentin-layer group counts (GLGs) and assessed flipper bone radiography without (FBSA) and with a formula (FBF). Sexual maturity was determined through gonadal histology and sexual hormone serum levels. Compared with a model based on S. coeruleoalba ages estimations in other latitudes, the striped dolphin studied displayed deficient growth parameters, with considerable variability in length, teeth, and flippers bone development. Close to 43% (n = 15) of GLGs’ measurements were below the body length average ranges for the predicted age, suggesting developmental abnormalities. Likewise, 34.4% and 31.2% of the dolphins assessed by FBSA and FBF were also below the body length based on age prediction curves, also indicating developmental abnormalities. This information is supported by the poor correlation between GLGs, FBSA, and FBF. Inconsistencies between sexually mature males and females related to GLGs, FBSA, and FBF were evident. Although the different oceanic settings of the ETP, such as contamination, food access, diseases, and other parameters, may influence size variation, our data also suggest that long-lasting debilitating brucellosis may account for detrimental growth in the ETP striped dolphins. Our study highlights the possible deleterious consequences of chronic infectious diseases in the cetacean populations already confronting distressful conditions.