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APPENDIX IV: MARC RECORDING SHEETS
Please send a copy of the completed sheets to James Barnett (see Appendix I)
MARC Stranded Cetacean Initial Report
APPEARANCE OF CETACEAN
POSITION OF CETACEAN WHEN FOUND
CONDITION OF CETACEAN ON INITIAL CLINICAL ASSESSMENT
Sketch appearance of animal, including traumatic lesions, skin damage, etc.
Indicate depth of lesions (through skin/blubber/muscle). Please also describe any other abnormalities seen, e.g. scoliosis, pectoral flipper dislocation and any identifying features for the animal. Positions for length and girth measurements are given on the diagram below.
How long stranded
Important in determining prognosis, due to insidious onset of shock and muscle damage with time after stranding.
Use RSPCA booklet, Sea Watch identification guide or British Divers handbook
Check if lying on side; females; anus is close to or at back of genital slit and may see mammary slits on either side; in males, gap between anus and genital slit is greater and there are no mammary slits.
If the animal has been lying on its side for some time this may lead to pooling of blood on one side which can increase the likelihood of muscle and organ damage and disturb the animals equilibrium.
Count openings of the blowhole over several minutes in large animals. Normal rates -dolphins/ porpoises: 2-5 breaths/min., pilot whales: approx. 1 breath/min.. Elevated with stress and respiratory disease. With stress, rates may rise markedly, but should fall when stress factor is removed. In small cetaceans, rates that remain above 10/min. for prolonged periods are indicative of a poor prognosis.
Significant gap between breathing out and breathing in?
Normal breathing pattern consists of periods of breath holding, ended by a forceful breathing out immediately followed by breathing in. A prolonged gap (>4 secs. in small cetaceans) between breathing out and in may be seen with pneumonia or the onset of shock.
Deteriorates once out of water, due to effects of sun and wind. Excessive skin loss is associated with a poor prognosis.
Capillary refill time
Press firmly on gums and record the time taken for the pink colour to reappear, i.e. for blood to return. Gives an indication of how well the circulation is working.
Mucous membranes colour
Easiest to check gum colour. If pale may be anaemic, or because going into dive reflex (when will usually also breath hold), which may be triggered when handled; if dark red, could be toxaemic, or due to local irritation.
A sponginess or loss of tone, when hands are pressed against the animals flanks, may be consistent with dehydration.
Lungs - cranial and ventral to dorsal fin; may reveal moist rales and emphysema, although complicated by forceful, noisy lung sounds with normal respiration. Heart - between pectoral flippers in cetaceans <3 metres; may reveal murmurs.
Beats can be felt in animals up to 8 metres in length, behind base of pectoral flipper. N.B. Rate varies with breathing cycle.
Any discharges present?
Excessive bleeding from blowhole, mouth, anus or mucoid, pussy blowhole discharge are poor prognostic signs.
In animals <50kg, use standard digital thermometer; in animals >50kg, use a flexible probe, 20-30cm long or a sealed digital thermometer securely attached to a stomach tube. Normal range: 36-37.5°C; over 42°C is likely to be terminal.
May give an indication of level of consciousness in depressed animal. Palpebral (eyelid) reflex: should close eye when gently touched on eyelid; blowhole reflex: should tighten blowhole when gently touched on the edge; jaw tone: should resist opening of mouth. Poor reflexes and muscle tone may occur with shock and a decreased level of consciousness, and are a poor prognostic sign.
Animals in poor condition are not candidates for refloating. This may also be the case for animals in moderate condition, particularly for harbour porpoises in winter. Interpret lumbar muscle profile with care; profile may be distorted when beached and animals in good bodily condition may be suffering from severe, acute illness.
Trauma, lesions and skin damage
Superficial trauma, often occurring during stranding, generally is not clinically significant, despite often heavy bleeding. Deeper wounds, penetrating the muscle layer will affect prognosis. Fractures and dislocations also affect prognosis, but may be difficult to detect. The stranding event itself can cause significant muscle damage, which may not be clinically apparent; checking blood samples for raised muscle enzyme levels may help with determining prognosis.
Surface (cornea) often damaged on stranding, but this should not affect the prognosis. An animal that closes its eyes during the course of a stranding may be lapsing into shock or a decreased level of consciousness.
Any refloat attempts made?
Important to determine if animal has already been pushed back into the sea. A hastily carried out refloat often leads to an animal restranding, may partially explain the animals condition on assessment, and affect its prognosis.
Behaviour in water, on refloating
Careful monitoring of behaviour and response to being refloated is important part of assessment. Abnormal behaviour includes uncoordinated movements - twitching and tremors - and pronounced flexion/curving of trunk. Disorientation, listing and an inability to swim are not initially poor signs, as these can take several hours to correct.
M.A.R.C. Recording Sheet
Record breathing rate at least every 15 minutes, other individual parameters at least every 30 minutes and others at vet/carers discretion
M.A.R.C. Procedures, treatment and sampling sheet
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