July 12, 2018

Companion Animal Symposium: Considerations for exotic or wild animals: Marine animal focus

Companion Animal Symposium: Considerations for exotic or wild animals: Marine animal focus.

By: Anne Zinn

The discussion surrounding companion animals continued on Wednesday, July 11 at the ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting with a symposium regarding considerations for exotic or wild animals, specifically marine animals. David Rosen, Research Scientist at the University of British Columbia, spoke to the audience about bioenergetics of marine mammals and his insights from the laboratory and wild studies perspective. Bioenergetics is the study of the transformation of energy in living organisms; Rosen explained that bioenergetics of marine mammals was a concern for resource managers who wanted to quantify the competition with the fishing industry, and the first scientific studies of energy requirements began in the 1980s with marine mammals under human care. Rosen was careful to point out that the continued debate over whether the basic energy demand of marine mammals are higher than terrestrial mammals persists despite the increasing number of studies completed. Rosen outlined the major developments in bioenergetic research in marine mammals over the past 40 years, identifying the major differences and challenges associated with studying animals under human care and those in the wild. While sample size is limited in aquariums, zoos, and rehabilitation centers, the studies completed within trained animal facilities promote the development and validation of techniques that can be used to conduct more detailed studies with animals in the wild. This helps enable scientists to better document the energetics of wild populations and how they might be affected by environmental complications. Rosen went on to explain that the marriage of wild and laboratory studies has produced a clearer picture of the unique aspects of marine mammal energy budgets and has led to various breakthroughs in the management of both groups and management of resources, which will continue to take place as knowledge continues to grow.