Multispecies Studies

Completed Scientific Studies

These studies focus on animals species other than the bottlenose dolphin. Dolphin Quest is passionate about the understanding and conservation of all animals. The focus of these studies include other species of cetaceans, marine mammals, marine and terrestrial animals.

 

Completed Studies Years Supported by DQ
1. Raising and Releasing Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles 1999 to present
2. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Loan Program 1999 to present
3. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) husbandry 2003 to present
4. The Marine Turtle Research Program 2005 to present
5. Housing and Release of Stranded Sea Turtles 2005 to present
6. Turtle Housing at Dolphin Quest Bermuda 2005 to present
7. The Bermuda Turtle Project 2005 to present
8. Turtle Sample Assessments 2011 to present
9. Characterization of Non-Ciguatera Marine Toxins in Algae and Fishes in Hawaii 1989
10. Monk Seal Prey and Nutrition Study 1996
11. Investigations into the Deformities and Declines in Bermuda’s Giant Toad 2002
12. Urease-Positive Helicobcter Species of Dolphins and Whales 2002
13. Manatee Rehabilitation 2005
14. An Investigation into the Adaption of Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) to a Natural Environment 2005
15. Hawaii Preparatory Academy Turtle Field Work 2008
16. The Survival and Management of a Stranded and Injured Hawksbill Turtle 2009-2011
17. Community-Based Aquaponics Model 2011
18. Bioenergetics of Juvenile Brown Stingray (Dasyatis lata) in Kāne’ohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii 2011
19. The Dynamics of a Natural and Human System in the Coastal Waters of Hawai’i: Understanding Spinner Dolphin Marine Tourism and Human Perceptions 2011-2013
20. Langkawi Dolphin Floating Exhibition 2012
21. Ho’onoua Anchialine Pool Restoration 2012
22. Puerto Rico Manatee and Associated Habitat Health Assessment 2012
23. Training and Certification to Treat Hawai’i Anchialine Pools with Rotenone 2013
24. From Farm to Bay 2013
25. Postnatal Development of the Muscle Biochemistry that Supports Swim Performance in Spinner Dolphins: Modeling Calf Vulnerability to Separation from the Pod During Interactions with Tuna Purse-seine Fisheries 2014

Raising and Releasing Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Pairs

Affiliate Organizations: Sea Life Park, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1999 to present

Project Description: Dozens of turtles are hatched in the protected environment at Sea Life Park and are raised and cared for at facilities such as Dolphin Quest Oahu at the Kahala Hotel & Resort until they are big enough to fend for themselves in the ocean environment. When they are big enough and reach approximately three years of age, they are released into the ocean to help repopulate their species. Assisted by NOAA, Dolphin Quest Oahu has successfully raised and released five pairs of Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Species propagation and conservation


The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Loan Program

Affiliate Organizations: Sea Life Park, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1999 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Oahu and the Kahala Hotel & Resort host Hawaiian green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) on loan from Sea Life Park. Dolphin Quest is responsible for the nutrition, health care and daily management of the turtles in their care. The ambassador program provides valuable data about turtle development and Dolphin Quest shares its records with NOAA.

Conservation Benefit: The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Loan Program is a cooperative education and conservation effort between marine life parks and U.S. government wildlife agencies to foster respect and love for the magnificent animals, as well as to promote their future conservation and protection. These turtles are intended to serve as ambassadors for their species to the public. As part of the ambassador program, the young turtles help guests learn about the plight of their endangered species. Dolphin Quest Oahu incorporates turtle activities into its children’s programs and educates guests during turtle feeding sessions.


Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Husbandry

Affiliate Organizations:  Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2003 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest provides in-kind support to assist with routine monthly green sea turtle shell scrubbing and weighing of turtles housed at Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo.

Conservation Benefit: Development of care and rehabilitation strategies and devices used for human care and in future strandings


The Marine Turtle Research Program

Project Investigators: George Balazs

Affiliate Organizations: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC)

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Hawaii serves as a site resource for George Balazs, assisting and monitoring wild turtles (Chelonia mydas) living in the ocean-fed main lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort. This is a part of the Marine Turtle Research Program managed by NOAA and PIFSC.

Conservation Benefit: Monitor and rescue of a threatened species


Housing and Release of Stranded Sea Turtles

Affiliate Organizations: Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Bermuda acts as a temporary natural habitat housing option for sea turtles in the care of BAMZ after being stranded on the shores or waters of Bermuda. Once given a clean bill of health from BAMZ, they are housed in a natural lagoon at Dolphin Quest Bermuda, as a transitional environment, until they are deemed releasable back into the Atlantic Ocean. These animals are tagged, released and tracked for future information on their status and well-being.

Conservation Benefit: Development of care and rehabilitation strategies and devices which could be used in future stranding


Turtle Housing at Dolphin Quest Bermuda

Affiliate Organizations: Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Bermuda has housed four turtles (three green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and one hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in collaboration with BAMZ.

Conservation Benefit: Development of care and rehabilitation strategies and devices which could be used in future stranding


The Bermuda Turtle Project

Affiliate Organizations: Bermuda Turtle Project; Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005 to present

Project Description: Provides in-kind support to the Bermuda Turtle Project, which focuses on catching, sampling, tagging and releasing hawksbill and immature green sea turtles in the waters of Bermuda, to determine size and maturity status, growth rates, gender ratios, residency, site fidelity, genetic diversity and movement patterns.

Conservation Benefit: The goal of this project is “to promote the conservation of marine turtles through research and education.”


Turtle Sample Assessments

Affiliate Organizations: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2011 to present

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Hawaii makes its laboratory space and equipment available to NOAA researchers for all turtle sample assessments to assist with efficiency in analyzing sample data when field work occurs locally.

Conservation Benefit: Local access to laboratory equipment expedites the processing of samples, and makes NOAA research on the Big Island more feasible


Characterization of Non-ciguatera Marine Toxins in Algae and Fishes in Hawaii

Project Investigators: Dr. Wayne Iwaoka, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Affiliate Organizations: University of Hawaii at Honolulu, Dolphin Quest, and Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1989

Project Description: An unidentified toxin, similar to Ciguatera but much more potent (findings suggest that the toxin may be similar to saxitoxin, also called paralytic shellfish poisoning), was seen in Hawaii for the first time in the spring of 1989. This project worked on identifying the specific type and distribution of this lethal toxin.


Monk Seal Prey and Nutrition Study

Project Investigators: Shannon Atkinson, Ph. D., and Gwen Lowe

Affiliate Organizations: Dolphin Quest and University of Hawaii at Honolulu

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1996

Project Description: This project studied the Hawaiian monk seals at the five main breeding islands to see if they were feeding on different prey and if there was a difference in diet among adult male, adult female and juvenile seals. Once the prey were identified, the next focus was to understand how well the seals digest them and how many calories, proteins, etc. they provided. This project was conducted to attempt to explain the selective starvation seen in the North West HI.


Investigations into the Deformities and Declines in Bermuda’s Giant Toad

Project Investigators: Jamie Bacon, Ph.D., Bermuda Zoological Society, Donald Linzey, Ph.D., Wytheville Community College, and Douglas Fort, Ph.D., Fort Environmental Laboratories

Affiliate Organizations: Dolphin Quest Bermuda, Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo, Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, Bermuda Audubon Society and the Bermuda National Trust

Species: Giant Toad (Bufo marinus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2002

Project Description: The purpose of this project was to confirm the linkages between environmental contaminants and amphibian deformities in Bermuda and to investigate any implications to human health and biodiversity conservation. The goals of this study were to determine if Bermuda’s marine toad (Bufo marinus) populations are being exposed to particular teratogenic chemicals and if these chemicals, under laboratory conditions, can cause the same type of deformities that have been observed in the natural populations.


Urease-Positive Helicobacter Species of Dolphins and Whales

Project Investigators: Harper, C., Feng, Y., Xu, S., Taylor, N., Rogers, M., Fox, J. G., Kinsel, F., Greenwell, Gregg Levin, G., Dewhirst, M.

Affiliate Organizations: Division of Comparative Medicine, MIT, Cambridge, MA; University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program of John G. Shedd Aquarium, Forsyth Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics, Boston

Species: Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus), Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2002

Project Description: Helicobacter cetorum sp. nov., a fusiform Gram-negative bacterium was cultured from the main stomach of two stranded Atlantic white-sided dolphins and from the feces of three dolphins under human care: Pacific white-sided dolphin, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, and Beluga whale. Endoscopic examinations revealed ulcers in the esophagus and forestomach of the beluga and bottlenose dolphin. Since gastric ulcers are a frequent finding in wild cetaceans, further studies are necessary to determine if Helicobacter cetorum plays a role in their development.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Increased understanding of the role bacteria plays in the development of gastric and esophageal ulcers


Manatee Rehabilitation

Project Investigators: Mignucci‐Giannoni, A. A.

Affiliate Organizations: Caribbean Stranding Network

Species: Antillean/Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005

Project Description: A manatee was observed stranded on shore in El Tuque, Ponce, Puerto Rico on September 9, 2005. Rangers of the Department of Natural Resources (DNER) were not able to locate its mother and called the Caribbean Stranding Network (CSN) for assistance. DNER personnel and a CSN team rescued the five‐day old male calf (111 cm, 27.7 kg) and transported it to San Juan for rehabilitation. The animal was treated for a bacterial infection and was named El Tuque, for the well‐known locality in Ponce where it was found.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  • Individual survival for animal rescued
  • Increased knowledge in the care and rehabilitation of species

An Investigation into the Adaptation of Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) to a Natural Environment

Affiliate Organizations: Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005

Project Description: Two turtles, hatched at BAMZ, were relocated and housed at Dolphin Quest Bermuda, where they received excellent nutrition and health care.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Monitoring of these two individuals allowed for the acquisition of knowledge of how green sea turtles adapt to a natural environment after spending time under human care, and the management of the species.


Hawaii Preparatory Academy Turtle Field Work

Affiliate Organizations: Hawaii Preparatory Academy

Species: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2008

Project Description: Field studies monitoring the green sea turtles’ (Chelonia mydas) heat regulation capacities using thermographic imaging

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Increased understanding of the biology of heat regulation in green sea turtles


The Survival and Management of a Stranded and Injured Hawksbill Turtle

Affiliate Organizations: Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ)

Species: Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2009-2011

Project Description: A stranded hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), found floating at the surface of Bermuda waters and having difficulty diving, was brought to BAMZ. The turtle had sustained traumatic injury to its spine near the pelvic region, which caused the turtle to not be able to adjust buoyancy or dive. Deemed non-releasable, the turtle was fitted with a weight attached to its carapace, allowing compensation for buoyancy and enabling it to sit on the bottom of the lagoon. Once adjusted to the new weight, the turtle was housed at Dolphin Quest Bermuda, providing a larger natural lagoon environment and allowing the turtle plenty of space to exercise. Dolphin Quest Bermuda was responsible for the nutrition, health care and daily management of the turtle.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  • Individual survival for turtle rescued
  • Development of care and rehabilitation strategies and devices which could be used in future stranding

Community-Based Aquaponics Model

Project Investigators: Toon, W., Ready, M.

Affiliate Organizations: ECOLIFE Foundation

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2011

Project Description: To develop, test and demonstrate a model community-based aquaponics system that provides a sustainable food source – vegetables and fish – while conserving water use by more than 90%. ECOLIFE is a locally-based grassroots non-profit that combines conservation and humanitarian efforts for simple, sustainable solutions.

Conservation Benefit: The model will be tested and demonstrated in San Diego County. Potential water and wildlife conservation applications are far ranging.


Bioenergetics of Juvenile Brown Stingray, Dasyatis lata, in Kane‘ohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Project Investigators: Dale, J.

Affiliate Organizations: University of Hawaii

Species: Brown stingray (Dasyatis lata)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2011

Project Description: The overarching goal of this project is to assess the ecological impact of juvenile brown stingrays in Kane’ohe Bay. Information on their food habits, growth rates, relative abundance and metabolic rates will be used in a simplified energy budget to evaluate their predatory pressure on prey populations within the bay.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  • This data will provide a means to predict how changes in ecosystem composition (e.g. habitat modification) will impact the population of brown stingrays within Kane‘ohe Bay
  • Inform and advise area use, management and conservation

The Dynamics of a Natural and Human System in the Coastal Waters of Hawai‘i: Understanding Spinner Dolphin Marine Tourism and Human Perceptions

Project Investigator: Carlie Wiener

Affiliate Organization: University of Hawaii

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2012-2013

Project Description: Swimming with dolphins in the wild can negatively influence their behavior; however, dolphin tourism continues to expand. Human actions are rarely considered in biological studies, thwarting species protection. This study is to combine biological and social sciences to examine why people swim with dolphins, what they do in the water, and the conservation values produced.

Conservation Benefit: The information gathered from this scientific study can be used to raise public awareness about the risks to dolphins from wild swim with dolphin programs, and influence humans to reconsider these interactions in the future.


Langkawi Dolphin Floating Exhibition

Project Investigator: Louisa Ponnampalam

Affiliate Organization: MareCet Research

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2013

Project Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Langkawi-Dolphin-Research/129739273751047

Project Description: To create a floating exhibition on marine mammals and marine conservation in Langkawi, Malaysia as a local education resource.


Ho‘onoua Anchialine Pool Restoration

Project Investigator: William G. Gilmartin

Affiliate Organization: Hawai’i Wildlife Fund (HWF)

Project Conducted: 2008 – 2013

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2013

Project Description: Since 2008, the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (HWF) has been working with the State of Hawai‘i (Div. of Forestry & Wildlife) to restore the native habitat at the Ho‘onoua anchialine pool complex (Wai‘ōhinu, Ka‘ū District). Restoration entails clearing and removal of non-native plant and animal species, and removal of excessive sediment from the base of the pools.


Puerto Rico Manatee and Associated Habitat Health Assessment

Project Investigators: Mignucci-Giannoni, A. A., Jiménez-Marrero, N. M., Zegarra, J. P.

Affiliate Organizations: Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus; Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Caribbean Ecological Services

Species: Antillean/Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2012

Project Description: Assess the health status of the wild population of the Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico through comprehensive veterinary examination that includes a variety of biomedical. Determine manatee movement patterns and habitat use through the use of GPS / satellite radio tags and radio telemetry.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  •  Gain a better understanding of the biology, behavior, ecology, health, and population dynamics of the Antillean manatees in Puerto Rico.
  • Maintaining manatee population life history, movement and habitat use can help advise area use, management and conservation efforts.

Training and Certification to Treat Hawai`i Anchialine Pools with Rotenone

Project Investigator: William Gilmartin

Affiliate Organization: Hawaii Fish and Wildlife

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2013

Project Description: A major cause of degradation of Hawai`i’s endemic anchialine pool ecosystems has been the human introduction of fish into the pools, usually tilapia. Once in the pools they are essentially impossible to eradicate, without the use of rotenone. The State has not allowed rotenone use in recent years, but now the Department of Health is modifying the rules to allow limited use of the chemical. This project is to send a person to a Fish and Wildlife Service training and certification course to enable use of rotenone in Hawai`i Island anchialine pools.

Conservation Benefit: The training and certification enables this project the use of rotenone to remove invasive fish species from the anachialine pools and help to restore these ecosystems. The certification will also allow HWF to assist other groups attempting to restore these threatened native Hawaiian ecosystems.


From Farm to Bay

Project Investigators: Joseph, B.

Affiliate Organizations: The Living Coast Discovery Center, Chula Vista, CA

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2013

Project Description: The Living Coast Discovery Center’s goal is to provide a world-class zoological experience with hands-on exhibits and live animal encounters. Programs focus on marsh, wetlands and marine ecology. Exhibits also feature how everyone can minimize their environmental footprint on the sea and shore communities.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit” The exhibits are created to give visitors an opportunity to connect what they learn with their daily lives. The Living Coast’s message is delivered through education and nose-to-nose exposure to birds, reptiles, marine, and land animals in order to will foster wonder and respect for every living creature.


Postnatal Development of the Muscle Biochemistry that Supports Swim Performance in Spinner Dolphins: Modeling Calf Vulnerability to Separation from the Pod During Interactions with Tuna Purse-seine Fisheries

Project Investigator: Shawn Noren, Kristi West

Affiliate Organization: University of California, Santa Cruz, and Hawaii Pacific University

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2014

Project Description: In collaboration with Dolphin Quest, the swim effort and performance of bottlenose dolphin calves was quantified to model the potential of fishery induced chase to separate spinner dolphin calves from their mothers (Noren et al. 2006, Noren et al. 2008, Noren and Edwards 2011). To refine these models, species-specific development of the muscle biochemistry that supports swim performance must be quantified. This study will examine how the aerobic and anaerobic capacity of the major locomotor muscle changes after birth in spinner dolphins so that the age of vulnerability for separation during fishery induced chase can be identified.

Conservation Benefit: Due to a lack of physiological data on spinner dolphins, the bottlenose dolphin has served as a model to assess the potential for immature spinner dolphin calves becoming separated from their pod during the high speed, long duration chases induced by tuna purse-seine fisheries in the eastern tropical Pacific.