Tang, K., J. K. Gaydos, W. Van Bonn, P. H. Kass, M. Haulena, and P. Harner. 2013. Thermoregulation in rehabilitating harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) pups: how core body temperature and surface temperature are associated with size metrics and the management practice of bathing. Annual Conference of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, San Francisco, CA, April 2013.
Type: Technical report or proceeding
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Wild harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) pups thermoregulate by hauling out of the water before they lose too much heat and expend too much energy. In rehabilitation, however, young
pups are housed in dry areas, but placed in pools for swims. Decreased caloric value of milk replacer means rehabilitated pups reach weaning and release weight slower than wild ones. Increased metabolic expenditure due to bathing also could prolong the time needed to raise pups to release size. Thermography, which measures surface temperature, is a promising method for studying thermoregulation in rehabilitating harbor seal pups. Previous studies in pinnipeds examined seasonal variation of body surface temperature, recovery after minor trauma, and locations of heat dumping over the body. We used thermography to study heat loss associated with standard seal rehabilitation bathing practices to see if bathing resulted in increased energy expenditure, potentially contributing to increasing time to release.