PMID: 10400492Nov 26, 1998

Health status of young Alaska Steller sea lion pups (Eumetopias jubatus) as indicated by blood chemistry and hematology

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Lorrie D ReaThomas R Loughlin


Blood chemistry and hematology were examined in 238 Steller sea lion pups (Eumetopias jubatus) to assess the health status of pups <1 month of age. Failure of juvenile recruitment (possibly due to nutritionally or physiologically compromised pups) into breeding populations has been proposed as a cause of recent declines of this endangered species in Alaska. To identify potential correlations with areas of high population decline, blood chemistry data were considered for three areas: eastern Aleutian Islands (low rates of population decline to stable populations), Gulf of Alaska (high rates of decline), and Southeast Alaska (stable to increasing population). Southeast Alaska pups showed elevated ketone body concentrations (beta-hydroxybutyrate,(beta-HBA)) and depressed glucose levels than pups in the Gulf of Alaska. Over 40% of the pups from Southeast Alaska had elevated beta-HBA concentrations suggesting they underwent longer periods of fasting than seen in pups from other areas. Hematocrit (Hct), hemoglobin concentration (Hb) and water content of the blood exhibited typical mammalian relationships. In summary, blood chemistry and hematology data showed no indication that Steller sea lion pups <1 month old from areas of populat...Continue Reading


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