Aquatic Mammals (1978)


In March of 1976, the aquarium’s veterinarian brought a young female harbor porpoise to the aquarium and housed her in a shallow (60 cm) portable pool. The animal had stranded herself on a nearby beach. The animal was about 8 months old judging from her length (99 cm) and weight (27 kg) (Smith & Gaskin, 1974). Her breathing was rapid and shallow. She frequently listed to one side and repeatedly bumped her rostrum on the sides of the pool. Blood samples showed an elevated white cell count, but no infectious agent was identified. She was injected with broad-spectrum antibiotics, tube-fed a blended mixture of squid, herring, and vitamins, and observed for the rest of the day.

The next morning she received another dose of antibiotics and another tube feeding. She still listed and bumped the sides of the pool, but less frequently than before. In the afternoon she was force-fed 1.5 kg of small herrings, most of which she regurgitated. That evening she was carried upstairs and placed in a large, chlorinated (l to 3 PPM) pool, 7.30 m in diameter and 3.00 m deep.

Responsibility for the animal was transferred to the training department, which began collecting the data reported here.