How to Treat a Bruised Flipper: Developing Pain Medications for Dolphins

Vimeo Link:

Claire Simeone, The Marine Mammal Center
Dolphins sometimes need pain medications just like people do, but no one has ever looked at how pain medications work in a dolphin’s body before. We gave ten bottlenose dolphins a dose of meloxicam, a type of anti-inflammatory. The dolphins then gave a couple of blood samples up to 10 days after receiving the medication. We looked at the levels of meloxicam in the blood, and compared it to other species. The meloxicam stayed in the dolphins’ bodies for more than 7 days. We usually take one pill a day if we have a headache or a sprained ankle, but we learned that we only need to give a dolphin one pill a week for pain relief! Thanks to the dolphins that participated, we now have a treatment for dolphins with pain and inflammation, and we are one step closer to keeping our oceans – and the animals in them – healthy.
Original Publication
Simeone, C.A., Nollens, H.H., Meegan, J.M., Schmitt, T.L., Jensen, E.D., Papich, M.G., and Smith, C.R. 2014. Parmacokinetics of Single Dose Oral Meloxicam in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 45(3): 594-599.

By the Numbers

Over 40,000 students in 50 US states, the US Virgin Islands, and 25 countries participated as judges in the 2016 Ocean 180 Video Challenge.