Research and Innovative Medical Approaches

At the heart of our conservation efforts is vital research aiming to understand the lives of marine mammals and the challenges they face in the wild.

VAMMR experts are considered global leaders in marine mammal health, including pioneering new medical approaches and undertaking essential research that is helping us understand the health of our oceans.


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Featured Research

Below is a snapshot of VAMMR's research work.


Anderson, C.E., K. Tang, C. Pace, D.A. Rosen and M. Haulena. 2023. Use of midazolam and butorphanol to sedate harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina) undergoing rehabilitation. Marine Mammal Science 39(3): 940-946. DOI: 10.1111/mms.13032


Gaydos, J.K., J. St. Leger, S. Raverty, H. Nollens, M. Haulena, E.J. Ward, C.K. Emmons, M.B. Hanson, K. Balcomb, D. Ellifrit, and M.N. Weiss. 2023. Epidemiology of skin changes in endangered Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca). Plos one 18(6): e0286551. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0286551


Linnehan, B.K., J.E. Leedam, D.A. Rosen, and M. Haulena. 2023. Normal pre-and post-prandial bile acids and protein C values vary by age in harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina richardsi) undergoing rehabilitation. American Journal of Veterinary Research 84(7). DOI: 10.2460/ajvr.23.03.0057


Nourbakhsh, H., a. Adams, S. Raverty, A.W. Vogl, M. Haulena and S.A. Skoretz. 2023. Microscopic anatomy of the upper aerodigestive tract in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina): Functional adaptations to swallowing. The Anatomical Record 306(5): 947-959. DOI: 10.1002/ar.25025


Pace, C.N., M. Haulena, H.E. Drumm, L. Akhurst, and S.A. Raverty. 2023. Causes and trends of harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) mortality along the British Columbia coast, Canada, 2012–2020. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 59(4): 629–639. DOI: 10.7589/JWD-D-22-00172


Rojas, L., M. Haulena, C.  Reichmuth, B. Busse, L.A. Ramos-Garduño, O. Rico-Chavez, U. Siebert, U. and M. Morell. 2023. Ultrastructure of the organ of Corti in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). Frontiers in Marine Science. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1211556


Morell. M., L. Rojas, M. Haulena, B. Busse, U. Siebert, R.E. Shadwick and S.A. Raverty. 2022. Selective inner hair cell loss in a neonate harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Animals 12 (2) 180. DOI: 10.3390/ani12020180


Reckendorf, A., E. Everaarts, P. Bunskoek, M. Haulena, A. Springer, K. Lehnert, J. Lakemeyer, U. Siebert and C. Strube. 2021. Lungworm infections in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the German Wadden Sea between 2006 and 2018, and serodiagnostic tests. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 14: 53-61.


Teman, S.J., J.K. Gaydos, S.A. Norman, J.L. Huggins, D.M. Lambourn, J. Calambokidis, J.K.B. Ford, M.B. Hanson, M. Haulena, E. Zabek, P. Cottrell, L. Hoang, M. Morshed, M.M. Garner and S. Raverty. 2021. Epizootiology of a Cryptococcus gattii outbreak in porpoises and dolphins from the Salish Sea. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 146: 129-143. DOI: 10.3354/dao03630


Adams, A., W. Vogl, C. Dawson, S. Raverty, M. Haulena and S.A Skoretz. 2020. Laryngeal and soft palate valving in the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina). Journal of Experimental Biology 223: jeb230201. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.230201


Huggins, M.M. Garner, S.A. Raverty, D.M. Lambourn, S.A. Norman, L.D. Rhodes, J.K. Gaydos, J.K. Olson, M. Haulena and M.B. Hanson. 2020. The emergence of mucormycosis in free-ranging marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Frontiers in Marine Science 7: 555. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00555


Sangster, S.  M. Haulena, C. Nordstrom and J.K. Gaydos. 2020. Interannual differences in postrelease movements of rehabilitated harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina richardii) in the Salish Sea. Marine Mammal Science 37: 1. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12739


Horning, M., R.D. Andrews, A.M. Bishop, P.L. Boveng, D.P. Costa, D.E. Crocker, M. Haulena, M. Hindell, A.G. Hindle, R.R. Holser, S.K. Hooker, L.A. Hückstädt, S. Johnson, M. Lea, B.I. McDonald, C.R. McMahon, P.W. Robinson, R.L. Sattler, C.R. Shuert, S.M. Steingass, D. Thompson, P.A. Tuomi, C.L. Williams and J.N. Womble. 2019. Best practice recommendations for the use of external telemetry devices on pinnipeds. Animal Biotelemetry 7: 20. DOI: 10.1186/s40317-019-0182-6


Tang, K.N., J.N. Winer, T. McKlveen, M. Etnier, L. Legendre, M. Haulena, M.A. Delaney and J.K. Gaydos. 2019. Computed tomography of the mandibles of a stranded offshore killer whale (Orcinus orca). Jour-nal of Comparative Pathology 168: 35-40.


McClain, A.M., M. Haulena, K. Tang, M. Morell and S. Raverty. 2018. Parotid carcinoma in a free-ranging California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 49: 824-827.


Haulena, M. and T. Schmitt. 2018. Anesthesia. In: CRC Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine, Third Edition, F.M.D. Gulland, L.A. Dierauf and K.L. Whitman (eds.), CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton. Pp. 567-606.


Taurisano, N.D., B.P. Butler, D. Stone, H. Hariharan, P.J. Fields, M. Haulena, P. Cotrell, O. Nielsen and S.A. Raverty. 2017. Streptococcus phocae in marine mammals of northeastern Pacific and Arctic Canada: a retrospective analysis of 85 postmortem investigations. Journal of wildlife diseases. DOI: 10.7589/2016-09-208


Horning, M., M. Haulena, J.E. Mellish, C.E. Goertz, K. Woodie, R.K. Berngartt, S.P. Johnson,  C.R. Shuert, K.A. Walker, J.P. Skinner and P.L. Boveng. 2017. Best practice recommendations for the use of fully implanted telemetry devices in pinnipeds. Animal Biotelemetry. 5:13 DOI 10.1186/s40317-017-0128-9.


Horning, M., M. Haulena, J.F. Rosenberg and C. Nordstrom. 2017. Intraperitoneal implantation of life-long telemetry transmitters in three rehabilitated harbor seal pups. BMC Veterinary Research 13: 139 DOI 10.1186/s12917-017-1060-1.


Rosenberg, J.F., M. Haulena, L.M.N. Hoang, M. Morshed, E. Zabek and S.A. Raverty. 2016. Cryptococcus gattii Type VGIIa infection in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 52: 677-681.


Anderson, C.E., M. Haulena, E. Zabek, G. Habing and S.A. Raverty. 2015. Clinical and epidemiologic considerations of Clostridium difficile in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) at a marine mammal rehabilitation center. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 46: 191-197.

Gutierrez, D.B., A. Fahlman, M. Gardner, D. Kleinhenz, M. Piscitelli, S. Raverty, M. Haulena and P.V. Zimba 2015. Phosphatidylcholine composition of pulmonary surfactant from terrestrial and marine diving mammals. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology. 211: 29-36.


Frouin H, M. Haulena, L.M. Akhurst, S.A. Raverty and P.S. Ross. 2013. Immune status and function in harbor seal pups during the course of rehabilitation. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 155: 98-109.


Melin, S.R. M. Haulena, W. Van Bonn, M.J. Tennis, R.F. Brown and J.D. Harris. 2013. Reversible immobilization of free-ranging adult male California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Marine Mammal Science 29: E529-E536.


MacRae, A.M., M. Haulena and D. Fraser. 2012. The provision of supplementary heat for hand-raised harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina). Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 32: 7-11.


Walker, K.A., A.W. Trites, M. Haulena and D.M. Weary. 2012. A review of the effects of different marking and tagging techniques on marine mammals. Wildlife Research 39: 15-30.


MacRae, A.M., M. Haulena and D. Fraser. 2011. The effect of diet and feeding level on survival and weight gain of hand-raised harbor seal pups (Phoca vitulina). Zoo Biology 30: 532–541.

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