Analysis of fish offered to bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) over a 5 year period : fluctuations and lessons in quality control

Citation

Sullivan KE, Odell K, Goonen C, Feuerbach D, Livingston S, Valdes EV. 2013. Analysis of fish offered to bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus truncatus) over a 5 year period : fluctuations and lessons in quality control. In Ward A, Coslik A, Mahan K, Treiber K, Reppert A, Maslanka M, Eds. Proceedings of the Tenth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Salt Lake City, UT.

Abstract

Dolphins held under human care often pose a challenge in terms of weight and subsequent health maintenance. While a lack of exercise may contribute to this situation, proper body weight can be controlled by taking regular weights and monitoring both feed and associated caloric intake by weight. At The Seas at Epcot, the diet of the four male dolphins housed therein consists of three types of fish: herring, capelin and squid. Both herring and capelin have seen a variety of fluctuations in nutrient content over the years, often based on the annual catch and seasonality. We aim to illustrate the range of energy, protein and fat content for these fish species across time and associated dolphin body weights, emphasizing the importance of monitoring fish nutrient content. Proper sampling technique should also be highlighted, as a random representative sample is important to implementing dietary changes based on nutrient analysis. The four dolphins monitored have tightly controlled and weighed diets which are altered monthly based on nutrient changes and target weight.

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