Florida's Most Active Whale and Dolphin Stranding Program

HSWRI has been a member of the NOAA-sponsored stranding response team since its formation in 1997 and has received dedicated funding as a member of NOAA’s  John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance program since its formation in 2002. We provide emergency stranding response for 40% of Florida’s east coast, including 1,100 square miles of estuarine waters. This portion of Florida is one of the most active areas for cetacean strandings in the Southeastern United States (SEUS) with approximately 70 events occurring each year. Brevard County, a large portion of our primary response area, is a “hot-spot,” having more than twice the number of strandings than any other Florida county from 1977 to 2020. HSWRI’s stranding team provides assistance to live animals, and examines and collects samples from deceased animals enabling vital research on population health, anthropogenic impacts, and life-threatening diseases that affect both marine life and humans. These efforts are essential to monitoring marine mammal health over an expansive and demanding response area where human interactions are prevalent.

Selected Publications:
Bossart, G.D., L. Hansen, J. Goldstein, K. Kroell, M. deSieyes, E. Howells, M. Stolen, W. Noke Durden, R.H. Defran, S.D. McCulloch. 2007. Pathologic findings in a rare mass stranding of melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) in Florida. Aquatic Mammals 33: 235-240.

Brown, A.O. Romanis, C.S., Dvořák, P., Foss, A.J., Gibson, Q.A., Villanueva, C.D., Durden, W.N., Garvey, A.D., Jenkins, P., Hašler, P., Johansen, J.R., Neilan, B.A., and Casamatta, D.A. 2021. A new species of cryptic cyanobacteria isolated from the epidermis of a bottlenose dolphin and as a bioaerosol, Phycologia, DOI: 10.1080/00318884.2021.1968173.

Durden, W.N., J. St. Ledger, M. Stolen, T. Mazza. C. Londono. Lacaziosis in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 45:849-856. 2009.

Durden, W.N., M.K. Stolen, D.H. Adams, and E.D. Stolen. 2007. Mercury and selenium concentrations in stranded bottlenose dolphin tissues from the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science 81:37-54.

Fire, S.E., Flewelling, L.J., Stolen, M., Durden, W.N., de Wit, M., Spellman, A.C., Wang, Z. 2015. Brevetoxin-associated mass mortality event of bottlenose dolphins and manatees along the east coast of Florida, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 526: 241-251. doi: 10.3354/meps11225

Fire S.E., L.J. Flewelling, M. Stolen, W.N. Durden, M. de Wit, A.C. Spellman and Z. Wang. Brevetoxin-associated mass mortality event of bottlenose dolphins and manatees along the east coast of Florida. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 526:241-251. 2015.

Fire, S.E., Z. Wang, T. A. Leighfield, S. L. Morton, W. E. McFee, W. A. McLellan, R. W. Litaker , P. A. Tester , A. A. Hohn , G. Lovewell , C. Harms, D. S. Rotstein, S. G. Barco, A. Costidis, B. Sheppard, G. D. Bossart, and F. M.Van Dolah. 2009. Evidence of domoic acid exposure in M. Stolen, W. N. Durden pygmy and dwarf sperm whales (Kogia spp.) from southeastern U.S. waters. Harmful Algae 8: 658-664.

Fire, Spencer, Browning, J., Durden, W., and Stolen, M. 2020. Comparison of during bloom and inter-bloom brevetoxin and saxitoxin concentrations in Indian River Lagoon bottlenose dolphins, 2002-2011 Aquatic Toxicology 105371.

Greenfield, M., Jablonski, T., Panike, A., Rotstein, R.S., St. Leger, J., Durden, W.N. 2021. Fatal Blowhole Obstruction by Eel in Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Florida. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 57(4): 959-963.

Mendoza, L; A.F.F. Belone; R. Vilela; M. Rehtanz; G.D. Bossart; J.S. Reif; P.A. Fair, W.N. Durden;  J. St. Leger; L.R. Travassos; and P.S. Rosa. 2008. Use of Sera from Humans and Dolphins with Lacaziosis and Sera from Experimentally Infected Mice for Western Blot Analyses of Lacazia loboi Antigens. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology 15: 164-167.

 Noke, W. 2002. The association of echeneids with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Aquatic Mammals 30(2): 296-298.

Robles-Sikisaka, R., Rivera, R., Nollens, H.H., St. Leger, J., Durden,  W.N., Stolen, M., Burchell, J., Wellehan, J.F.X. Jr.  2012. Recombination and positive selection are important evolutionary forces of cetacean papillomaviruses. Virology  427:189-197

 Rossman S., Ostrom ,P.H., Stolen, M., Barros N.B., Gandhi, H., Stricker C.A., Wells R.S. Individual specialization in the foraging habits of female bottlenose dolphins living in a trophically diverse and habitat rich estuary. Oecologia. 178: 415-425. 2015

Rousselet, E., M. Stolen, W.N. Durden, T. Mazza, N. Stacy, and D. Rotstein. 2018.  Bilateral polycystic kidneys and focal renal cystadenoma in a pygmy sperm whale, Kogia breviceps. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. Doi: 10.7589/2018-01-019.

Stavros, H. W., M. Stolen, W. N. Durden, W. Mc Fee, G.D. Bossart, and P. A. Fair. 2011. Comparison and Correlation  of Trace Elements in Tissues from Stranded and Free-ranging Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the US Southeastern Atlantic Coast. Chemosphere, 82, 1649-1661.

 Stolen, M.K., W. Noke Durden, and D.K. Odell. 2006. Historical synthesis of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) stranding data in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida, from 1977-2005. Florida Scientist 70:45-54.

 Stolen, M., J. St. Leger, W.N. Durden, T. Mazza and E. Nilson. Fatal asphyxiation in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon. PLOS ONE. 8(6):366828. 2013.

 Stolen, M., W Noke Durden, T. Mazza, N. Barros, and J. St. Leger. Effects of fishing gear on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida. Mar Mamm Sci. 29:356-364. 2013.

Wu, Q. , J. Conway, K. M. Phillips, M. Stolen, W. N. Durden, D. Fauquier, W. E. McFee, and L.Schwacke. Detection of Brucella spp. in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) by a Real-Time PCR Using Blowhole Swabs. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 120: 241–244, doi: 10.3354/dao03034

Wu, Q., Conway, J., Phillips, K.M., Stolen, M., Durden, W.N., Fauquier, D., McFee, W.E., Schwacke, L. Detection of Brucella spp. in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus by real-time PCR using blowhole swabs. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. 120:241-244.