Borque-Espinosa 2020 Lung function

Lung function testing for dolphins: A non-invasive method to assess lung health and save stranded dolphins  

Lung disease is one of the major causes for health problems in dolphins and whales. However, the ability to assess how healthy these animals are in the wild is difficult. In the last 5 years the Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage has been committed to help researchers develop a new noninvasive method to allow early detection of lung disease and assess lung health in dolphins. A couple of times per year, we asked the dolphins to either breathe normally or exhale forcefully into a respiratory flow meter placed over their blowhole, and also performed other standard health assessments. The results showed that the lung function testing can be used to diagnose disease and track the effectiveness of treatment. These methods will now be offered to stranding networks to help veterinarians and animal care teams during dolphin and whale stranding incidents to help save dolphins in the wild. This work shows the benefit of managed care facilities, like the Mirage Dolphin Habitat, to help with conservation of wild animals, where controlled studies can be done to validate new equipment and methods.


  • Borque-Espinosa, A., Burgos, F., Dennison, S., Laughlin, R., Manley, M., Azzati, R. C., & Fahlman, A. (2020). Pulmonary function testing as a diagnostic tool to assess respiratory health in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 138, 17-27.

Affiliate Organizations:  Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, The Mirage; Fundación Oceanogràfic de la Comunidad Valenciana; Research Group on Biomedical Imaging (GIBI230); Universidad de Valencia; Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Hospital Clínic- Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques  Universitat de Barcelona; Center for Biomedical Network Research in Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES); TeleVet Imaging Solutions; Global Diving Research Inc.

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