Every year many marine mammals become stranded on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The deaths of these animals are investigated and recorded by the North West Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Animals or tissues from animals, that are considered fresh enough for histopathology are brought for evaluation to the Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory at Oregon State University. The diagnostic records detail the condition of the animal, disease status and cause of death. In this study, data will be collated from the diagnostic records at the Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory (VisuaLab database) into an access database, incorporating information from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network as appropriate. Over the last six years, a total of 183 cases have been accessioned into the Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory database, involving sea lions, seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales. This data is accessible only via VisuaLab software, which provides limited support for data queries and is scheduled for retirement later this year, making subsequent access even more difficult. Converting this database into an access database will allow future synthesis with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network database and will ensure continued availability of all the data and provide an increased sample size for any future research. Statistical analysis will be undertaken to ascertain the types, frequency, and distribution (e.g. species, age, gender, geography) of diseases and to look for trends in the cause of death marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest The desired outcomes of this project are to obtain an increased knowledge and understanding of what research entails and how it is conducted, to contribute information regarding the health of marine mammal populations of the Pacific Northwest, and to create an accessible, user friendly database for other researchers in this field. Secondary desired outcomes of this project are to assist in marine mammal conservation efforts and to form the basis of future research projects allowing for in depth investigations of specific diseases and trends.
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