Diseases of Marine Mammals

UAB Barcelona Summer School

12 Diseases of Marine Mammals - Mariano Domingo

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
Course Fee: 850 €
Course Fee for UAB students and Alumni UAB Premium+ : 200 €
Teaching Language: English
Place: UAB Campus Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès)
Teaching Period: 21 June to 09 July, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Registration of international and national students (non-UAB students) before May 16 will get 20% discount.

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Enrolment guidelines

Contact: summer@uab.cat



Mariano Domingo is a Veterinary Pathologist with strong background and knowledge of pathogenesis and pathology of animal diseases, and with a long experience in diseases of Marine Mammals. Since 1990 he is an active participant in the stranding network led by the Catalan Government, performing necropsies of stranded cetaceans, and determining the causes of death. He is a trainer in Marine Mammal Pathology for the residents of the European College of Veterinary Pathologists in the three last editions of this topic in the ECVP summer school. He is author of 180 scientific articles on animal diseases, 36 of them related to wild animals, and 20 of them referring to diseases of cetaceans.

  • Department of Health and Anatomy of Animals
  • E-mail: mariano.domingo@uab.cat



Contents overview

The subject will be dedicated to a general description of the main diseases and threats that affect cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) in the world. The course will review the main conditions that affect these species, with an interdisciplinary view, ordered etiologically (bacterial, viral, parasitic, anthropogenic and other non-infectious problems).

It will include theoretical and practical sessions. The theoretical classes will cover the core knowledge of the different diseases and conditions, including aetiology, pathogenesis, clinical signs and lesions, and diagnostic procedures, and impact on the populations. Diseases will be described using specific individual cases with archive material and images. Information will be extended with basic references and chapters on each topic, made available to the students one or several days in advance to discussion in the class.

Methodological aspects will also be taught, with introduction to the different methodologies of disease detection and investigation of specific causes of death. As part of the practical training, a full necropsy of a dolphin (frozen and thawed for the course) will be performed by the students at the necropsy room of the Veterinary Faculty. Information on diseases will be complemented with practical lectures using the microscope and visualizing slides of specific diseases at the microscopy laboratory.


Week programme

Diseases of Marine Mammals
 Week   Contents Teaching / learning activities

A. Methodologies for disease investigation.

B. Diseases of cetaceans.
1. Viral diseases.

2. Bacterial and fungal diseases.
3. Protozoan diseases.

Lectures. Case discussions.

Necropsy of a cetacean (performed at the Necropsy room of the Veterinary School
2 B. Diseases of cetaceans (cont.).
4. Metazoan parasites in cetaceans.
5. Anthropogenic interactions.
6. Non-infectious diseases

Lectures. Case discussions.

Histopathology sessions on microscope (at the Microscopy laboratory)
3 C. Diseases of pinnipeds.
1. Viral diseases.
2. Bacterial and fungal diseases.
3. Parasitic diseases (including protozoa).
4. Biotoxins

Lectures. Case discussions.

Histopathology sessions on microscope

Discussion of selected papers (presentation by groups of 2-3 students)

Evaluation (written exam).



Students will have to present orally in the class a critical review of a scientific paper, performed in groups of 2-3 students, following a pre-established format. This presentation will receive a qualification (40% of the note). Students will complete a written examination with short questions and answers (60% of the note). The final qualification will the sum of both qualifications. Evaluation will be completed two days before the end of the 3rd week of the course.


Links and references

Bernaldo De Quirós Y, Fernandez A, Baird RW, Brownell RL, Aguilar De Soto N, Allen D, Arbelo M, Arregui M, Costidis A, Fahlman A, Frantzis A, Gulland FMD, Iñíguez M, Johnson M, Komnenou A, Koopman H, Pabst DA, Roe WD, Sierra E, Tejedor M, Schorr G (2019) Advances in research on the impacts of anti-submarine sonar on beaked whales. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 286

Bressem M-F Van, Duignan P, Banyard A, Barbieri M, Colegrove K, Guise S De, Guardo G Di, Dobson A, Domingo M, Fauquier D, Fernandez A, Goldstein T, Grenfell B, Groch K, Gulland F, Jensen B, Jepson P, Hall A, Kuiken T, Mazzariol S, Morris S, Nielsen O, Raga J, Rowles T, Saliki J, Sierra E, Stephens N, Stone B, Tomo I, Wang J, Waltzek T, Wellehan J (2014) Cetacean Morbillivirus: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. Viruses 6:5145–5181

Colegrove KM, Lowenstine LJ, Gulland FMD (2005) Leptospirosis in Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris) Stranded along the California Coast. J Wildl Dis 41:426–430

Cozzi B, Huggenberger S, Oelschläger H (2016) Anatomy of dolphins: Insights into body structure and function.

Domingo M, Visa J, Pumarola M, Marco AJ, Ferrer L, Rabanal R, Kennedy S (1992) Pathological and immunocytochemical studies of morbillivirus infection in striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). Vet Pathol 29:1–10

Duignan P, Bressem M-F Van, Baker J, Barbieri M, Colegrove K, Guise S De, Swart R de, Guardo G Di, Dobson A, Duprex W, Early G, Fauquier D, Goldstein T, Goodman S, Grenfell B, Groch K, Gulland F, Hall A, Jensen B, Lamy K, Matassa K, Mazzariol S, Morris S, Nielsen O, Rotstein D, Rowles T, Saliki J, Siebert U, Waltzek T, Wellehan J (2014) Phocine Distemper Virus: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. Viruses 6:5093–5134

Fernández A, Edwards JF, Rodríguez F, Espinosa De Los Monteros A, Herráez P, Castro P, Jaber JR, Martín V, Arbelo M (2005) “Gas and fat embolic syndrome” involving a mass stranding of beaked whales (Family Ziphiidae) exposed to anthropogenic sonar signals. Vet Pathol 42:446–457

Gulland FMD, Dierauf LA, Whitman KL (2018) CRC Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine, Third Edition.

Guzmán-Verri C, González-Barrientos R, Hernández-Mora G, Morales J, Baquero-Calvo E, Chaves-Olarte E, Moreno E (2012) Brucella ceti and Brucellosis in Cetaceans. Front Cell Infect Microbiol 2:1–22

Isidoro-Ayza M, Ruiz-Villalobos N, Pérez L, Guzmán-Verri C, Muñoz PM, Alegre F, Barberán M, Chacón-Díaz C, Chaves-Olarte E, González-Barrientos R, Moreno E, Blasco JM, Domingo M (2014) Brucella ceti infection in dolphins from the Western Mediterranean sea. BMC Vet Res 10:1–10

Leger JA St., Begeman L, Fleetwood M, Frasca S, Garner MM, Lair S, Trembley S, Linn MJ, Terio KA (2009) Comparative Pathology of Nocardiosis in Marine Mammals. Vet Pathol 46:299–308

Moore MJ, Hoop J Van Der, Barco SG, Costidis AM, Gulland FM, Jepson PD, Moore KT, Raverty S, McLellan WA (2013) Criteria and case definitions for serious injury and death of pinnipeds and cetaceans caused by anthropogenic trauma. Dis Aquat Organ 103:229–264

Raga JA, Banyard A, Domingo M, Corteyn M, Bressem MF Van, Fernández M, Aznar FJ, Barrett T (2008) Dolphin morbillivirus epizootic resurgence, Mediterranean Sea. Emerg Infect Dis 14:471–473

Resendes AR, Almería S, Dubey JP, Obón E, Juan-Sallés C, Degollada E, Alegre F, Cabezón O, Pont S, Domingo M, Almeria S, Dubeytt JP, Ob E, Juan-Sallsll C, Cabez O (2002) Disseminated Toxoplasmosis in a Mediterranean Pregnant Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus) with Transplacental Fetal Infection. J Parasitol 88:1029–1032

Silvagni PA, Lowenstine LJ, Spraker T, Lipscomb TP, Gulland FMD (2005) Pathology of domoic acid toxicity in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Vet Pathol 42:184–191

Soto S, Alba A, Ganges L, Vidal E, Raga JA, Alegre F, González B, Medina P, Zorrilla I, Martínez J, Marco A, Pérez M, Pérez B, Vargas Mesas AP De, Valverde RM, Domingo M (2011) Post-epizootic chronic dolphin morbillivirus infection in Mediterranean striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba. Dis Aquat Organ 96:187–194

Soto S, Marco A, Domingo M, González R, Alegre F, González B, Medina P, Raga JA (2011) Epizootic of dolphin morbillivirus on the Catalonian Mediterranean coast in 2007. Vet Rec 169:1–3