Global veterinary experts meet in Spain to train on health assessment, rescue, and translocation of endangered river dolphins 

Global Veterinary Experts Meet at Oceanogràfic to Train on Health Assessment, Rescue, and Translocation of Endangered River Dolphins

For Immediate Release

  • The veterinary workshops are led by the National Marine Mammal Foundation, in collaboration with Oceanogràfic Valencia.
  • Practical sessions with bottlenose dolphins at the Valencia Aquarium enable vital hands-on training for species experts from around the world.

San Diego, CA – December 29, 2023

The Oceanogràfic Valencia takes center stage as a global hub for training in the health and conservation of endangered river dolphins, hosting cutting-edge veterinary workshops led by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF). 

This event boasts significant collaboration among international experts, including representatives from WWF Pakistan, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore, WWF Cambodia, Omacha Foundation, Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development, Associação R3 Animal, Duisburg Zoo, University of São Paulo, University of St. Andrews, and more.

Veterinarians, biologists, and river dolphin experts from around the world gathered at the Valencia marine center for a week-long intensive training on the rescue and relocation of these threatened species. The focus of these immersive sessions is to provide theoretical and practical training to professionals dedicated to the conservation of these animals.

The uniqueness of this workshop lies in its exclusive emphasis on assessing the health of river dolphins, with the Oceanogràfic playing a crucial role by providing facilities for practical health assessment training sessions with their bottlenose dolphins. These animals, adept at veterinary sessions, enable the practice of health assessment techniques, including physical exam, biologic sampling, and diagnostic ultrasound.

This groundbreaking workshop not only concentrates on evaluating the health of river dolphins but also stands out for its focus on critical data collection for species conservation during rescue and relocation efforts, currently ongoing for endangered Indus river dolphins in Sukkur, Pakistan. Participation extends to professionals working with Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia and Amazon river dolphins in Colombia and Brazil, solidifying an unprecedented opportunity for global collaboration, cross-training, and capacity building.

The workshop covers a wide range of topics, from the anatomy and physiology of river dolphins to veterinary monitoring techniques, safe handling and transportation, biological sampling, and imaging diagnostic techniques. The practical sessions with the Oceanogràfic’s dolphins are followed by conferences and discussions led by veterinarians. During the second week, December 18 to 20, the workshop transitions to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Collaborating Center for Marine Mammal Health, Institute for Animal Health (IUSA) Veterinary School, at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. This segment offers participants an opportunity to further their animal health education with a specific focus on anatomy, cetacean pathology, forensic and sampling techniques, with diagnostic and conservation aims, aligning with a One Health approach.

The workshops are part of a project focused on Indus river dolphin conservation, funded by the Society for Marine Mammalogy Conservation Fund and Lever for Change Swift Grant. Additional funding support was provided by YAQU PACHA e.V., Organization for the Conservation of Latin American Aquatic MammalsDolphin QuestNuremberg Zoo, and Scott & Jessica McClintock Foundation.

It is anticipated that this international collaboration will foster new relationships and partnerships to lead the global assessment of river dolphin health, critical for the conservation of these iconic and endangered species.