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Keywords:

  • harbor porpoise;
  • Phocoena phocoena;
  • hematology;
  • blood;
  • free-ranging;
  • health

Abstract

Clinical hematology values were determined for 29 harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) released from herring weirs in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Erythrocyte values exhibited narrow ranges, but there was a high degree of individual variability in counts of white blood cells. Total white cell counts ranged from 2.6 to 15.5 ± 109/liter, with an overall mean of 6.5 ± 2.7 ± 10±/liter. There were significant differences among reproductive classes in mean values of total red blood cells, hematocrit (HCT), mean cell volume (MCV), mean cell hemoglobin (MCHC) and total monocyte count. Wild harbor porpoises had fewer white blood cells, lower relative total number of neutrophils and lymphocytes, and higher percentages of monocytes and eosinophils than reported in the literature for captive porpoises. Compared to published values for other odontocetes, the hemograms of harbor porpoises were most similar to those of Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus). These hematology data represent a baseline from free-ranging harbor porpoises that can be used as a reference for long-term monitoring of the health of this population and as a tool for rehabilitation facilities.