I am currently in Santiago, Chile at “el 8vo Curso Internacional de Medicina Zoológica” (loosely translated as “the 8th International Conference of Zoological Medicine”) at the Buin Zoo to lead two practical sessions and lecture on several topics on marine mammal medicine, along with Dr. Elizabeth Nolan from Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The work we do at the Vancouver Aquarium – with our research programs, our Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, and our preventative medical health program – are of great interest in many parts of the world that don’t often have access to the expertise and knowledge that we sometimes take for granted. This workshop is a great opportunity to share the expertise that we’ve gleaned during the Aquarium’s long history with other institutions.

Over 70 veterinarians, veterinary students, and researchers from around South America are attending this intensive conference. The practical sessions focused on sea lion anesthesia, and as part of these educational sessions, we conducted demonstrations on two stranded South American sea lions to discuss various anesthetic techniques and diagnostic procedures. Today, we diagnosed a severe tracheal mite infection in the young sea lion that was examined – this can be treated and is going to make a big difference in this animal’s life.

Yesterday was a full day – I lectured until well after 7:00 p.m. The topics that seemed to interest people the most included anesthesia and especially our recent progress in darting and disentangling large sea lions caught in marine garbage. People were also very excited to hear about our work with harbour porpoises, post-release tracking, training medical behaviours, and some of the specific diseases that we have encountered in our long history.

To learn more about the work of the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, visit here.

Blog post written by Dr. Martin Haulena, Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian, who is leading instructional sessions in Santiago, Chile at a marine mammal, sea turtle and penguin medicine workshop at the Buin Zoo.

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