Marine Veterinary Medicine
MARVET offers short-term externships for veterinary students, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, biologists and others interested in an introduction to marine medicine for animals under human care in aquatic facilities, as well as concepts of marine conservation and the health of free-ranging populations.
MARVET was established in 1999 and now operates as an educational workshop under the auspices of the Institute for Global Health and Health Policy (IGHHP). IGHHP is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The collective expertise of many individuals and affiliated organizations combine to make the MARVET experience unique.
From 1999-2009, MARVET Florida was conducted each year at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, with participation in a long-term study by Dr. Randy Wells and his associates, including Dr. Jay Sweeney and Dr. Forrest Townsend, who have now been investigating a group of wild bottlenose dolphins for many decades in Sarasota Bay. This investigation is the longest-running study of its kind in the world and has made significant contributions to our knowledge of bottlenose dolphins in the wild.
Many leading marine mammal researchers and veterinarians were on-site during the MARVET Florida workshop. Students had the opportunity to participate and become acquainted with some of the ongoing state-of-the-art scientific research and veterinary medical applications in marine mammal medicine. They worked with Mote veterinarian Dr. Charles Manire, Petra and David Cunningham-Smith and other staff members of the Whale and Dolphin Hospital and the Sea Turtle Hospital in their veterinary care and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals and turtles.
Subsequently, a second MARVET Florida workshop was conducted on two occasions at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, participating in a capture, health assessment and release study of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River under the direction of Dr. Greg Bossart. This workshop showcased the concept of having dolphins serve as sentinels of aquatic ecosystem health.
The first clinically advanced workshop (MARVET California) for graduate veterinarians was conducted at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California in 2004. This course provided an intense, one-week hands-on workshop in the clinical methodologies and strategies of marine mammal medicine and rehabilitation, with an emphasis on pinnipeds, including the California sea lion, elephant seal and the harbor seal. This advanced clinical workshop was conducted again in 2008.
The first MARVET workshop dedicated to sea turtles was held for veterinary students and veterinarians at St. George's University on the island of Grenada in the West Indies in 2004. Instructors included marine veterinarians and biologists, presenting health and conservation strategies for sea turtles in the wild. A second course targeting sea turtle conservation medicine was conducted on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in 2006.
MARVET continues to offer externships exploring the field of marine health and medicine with attention to clinical care in aquatic facilities as well as contemporary issues impacting ocean health and the welfare of free-ranging populations. Since 2007, MARVET externships have been conducted each summer in México's Yucatán Peninsula (MARVET México) and on the island of Grand Cayman in the British West Indies (MARVET Cayman). Future workshops are being explored in additional U.S. and international settings that can provide on-site opportunities to explore aquatic animal medicine.