Aquatic Animal Health
A vital role towards positive effect Conservation is the preservation and careful management of the environment and living things within to prevent unsustainable exploitation, destruction, or neglect. Our oceans and other aquatic systems face a myriad of serious threats to long-term survival, largely due to pressures from damaging human activities. Professionals and researchers from many disciplines fall under the umbrella of aquatic animal health, including veterinarians, biologists, toxicologists, disease experts, and many others. By working together, contributions are made to conservation efforts and rational management decisions through sound science and sharing of relevant expertise.
Members and partners of the University of Florida Aquatic Animal Health Program regularly contribute to projects with conservation relevant goals. Examples of our past and present activities include:
Veterinary support for marine mammal and sea turtle field studies to collect critical population, biology, and health information
Investigation of large scale animal die-offs (mortality events)
Diagnostic investigation of stranded marine animals
Consultations on expert panels on impacts of human activities, infectious diseases, and other population-level threats
Education initiatives (grade school to advanced graduate level)
Current Conservation Initiatives:
When the US Geologic Survey (USGS) conducts manatee health assessments, the Aquatic Animal Health program at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine often assist with veterinary care.
Capture and release events are used to gather data for research projects on the endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris).
Several stranded loggerhead turtles receive supportive care at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida during a large stranding event in 2000/01. University of Florida veterinarians and scientists were part of the investigative team. Multiple mass stranding and mortality events involving loggerheads have been documented in Florida and surrounding states during the last ten years. Understanding the cause(s) of these events is critical for the threatened loggerhead turtle, whose nesting has been in alarming decline over the last several years.
Drs. Brian Stacy of (UF AAH) and Aniruddha Belsare examine an Indian gharial, a highly endangered crocodilian, in the Chambal River Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, India. A massive die-off of gharials in 2007/08 threatened the largest remaining wild population in the world. Photograph by Romulus Whitaker.
Dr. Brian Stacy (UF AAH) releases a loggerhead turtle into Florida Bay, Everglades National Park following examination and collection of essential biological data. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and National Marine Fisheries Service annually study loggerheads in Florida Bay as part of a long-standing field project aimed at collecting biological, population, and health information on this threatened species. Photograph by Gaëlle Blanvillain.