Marine Mammals

Harbor Branch Necropsy Laboratory


Protect Wild Dolphin plate Protect Florida Whales plate


 A portion of this research is funded by proceeds from the Protect Wild Dolphins and Protect Florida Whales specialty license plates.

Overview lab

Conduct comprehensive post-mortem examinations of stranded marine mammals and other species to carry out multiple research goals while serving as a statewide resource for NOAA National Marine Fisheries and collaborators worldwide. 

Retrospective analysis of pathology data, combined with clinical research findings to provide increased scientific insights into the potential means of predicting disease and mortality in dolphins and possibly other cetacean stocks; the causes of death may be related to environmental degradation, which is a critical issue facing estuaries and coastal areas in Florida.


Our Lab has conducted exams on a variety of species including dolphins, whales, sharks, rays and turtles.




Research Projects

Toxicology: Tissues are screened for heavy metals and organic pollutants such as flame retardants and how they impact health

Virology: Molecular identification of novel viruses from Florida bottlenose dolphins.

Novel imaging methods: Using magnetic resonance and CT imaging to investigate central nervous system abnormalities associated with environmental chemical exposure


Biomechanics:  Analysis of the strength and elastic moduli of cancellous bone in aquatic mammals

Parasitology: Screening and identification related to pathological signs of disease parasite

Prey identification: Stomach contents are analyzed for prey items and the ingestion of plastics and trash