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Program Information

Aquatic animal medicine is a young specialty of veterinary medicine that includes medical care of marine mammals, sea turtles, fishes and aquatic invertebrates. There are broad sub-specialties within aquatic medicine which include care of captive marine mammals, care of pet fishes, zoo and aquarium species, aquaculture medicine, and clinical research involving free-ranging aquatic species. Specialty training incorporates aspects of clinical medicine, wildlife health, environmental science and engineering.

Aquatic animal health specialization requires substantial training and experience beyond the four year veterinary degree, and may include graduate school, internships, and in some cases, residency training. Currently, there is a specialty certificate in aquatic medicine which can be earned through board certification by the American College of Zoological Medicine. There is also a certificate in fish pathology which can be earned through the American Fisheries Association.

The aquatic animal health program at the University of Florida includes the marine mammal health program operated through the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience. It is funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Also included is a strong program in fish and aquaculture medicine which is run through the Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

Mission Statement

To provide sustainable state of the art training, education, clinical, diagnostic and research support for aquatic animals, both wild and under the care of man. We work in partnership with other University of Florida programs, private groups, oceanaria, industry, researchers, local, state and federal stakeholders as well as other educational institutions.

In support of its mission, the Aquatic Animal Health Program includes the following goals:

  • To educate veterinarians, veterinary medical students, graduate students, and related professionals in the science, care and medicine of aquatic animals in concert with other College of Veterinary Medicine departments, University of Florida programs, and other educational institutions.
  • To provide diagnostic services and to develop new technology and methodology to evaluate aquatic animal health and disease for Florida Aquaculture industry.
  • To provide diagnostic, research and clinical support for aquatic animal issues including ill and stranded animals such as cetaceans, sea turtles, manatees, pinnipeds, fish, invertebrates and other marine species
  • To partner in the coordination efforts in developing regional and national programs of cooperation regarding investigations and health care of aquatic species and their environment
  • To provide outreach to the general public on topics of health and well-being of aquatic animals and related environmental issues.
  • To generate science-based information for use in the management and protection of aquatic animals.

Marine Mammal Program

Mission Statement:

The University of Florida Marine Mammal Program is a joint endeavor of the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Florida Marine Research Institute of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This program was developed to promote the health and understanding of marine mammals in Florida.
In support of its mission, the Marine Mammal Program commits:

  • To educate veterinarians, veterinary medical students, and related professionals in the care of marine mammals.
  • To train graduate and post-doctoral students in research that addresses issues related to marine mammals.
  • To transfer information to personnel involved in the management and protection of marine mammals and provide a sound scientific basis for management decisions.
  • To provide outreach to the general public on topics of health and well-being of marine mammals and related environmental issues.
  • To promote research in the biology of marine mammals and to develop new technology and methods of understanding marine mammal health and well-being.
  • To provide a sound scientific basis for management decisions relating to marine mammals