Aquatic animal medicine is a specialty of veterinary medicine that includes medical care of marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and aquatic invertebrates. There are broad sub-specialties within aquatic medicine which include care of captive marine mammals, care of pet fish, 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.
Our goal is to provide sustainable state of the art training, education, diagnostics, and research support for managed care and wild aquatic animals. We work in partnership with other University of Florida programs, private groups, oceanaria, industries, researchers, local, state and federal stakeholders as well as other educational institutions.
Aquatic animal health specialization requires substantial training and experience beyond the four year veterinary degree, and may include upper level collegiate opportunities such as graduate school, internships, and in some cases, residency training. Residents earn a board certification through the American College of Zoological Medicine; making them board certified in their particular interest specialty. As previously mentioned, this specialty in aquatic medicine has serval subgroups in which there can be further specialization in. The University of Florida in general provides a range of opportunities for these specializations. There 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. Also, due to funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Aquatic Animal Health Program provides a focus on marine mammal health which operates in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience.
As a special opportunity for our veterinary students here at the University of Florida, we offer an Aquatic Animal Medicine Certificate to enhance their training through their elective credits. This teaching program offers certification to veterinary students allowing them to pursue specialized training and clinical experience in aquatic animal health while still in veterinary school. Those not at the University of Florida, can participate in training opportunities through our distance education courses or our summer short courses. Our unique teaching program offers certification to UF veterinary students allowing them to pursue specialized training and clinical experience in aquatic animal health while still in veterinary school. Our graduate level education program provides training in marine mammal science and aquaculture health with opportunities available at both the M.S. and PhD level. Upper-level undergraduates may also take advantage of these online courses as well. We also offer a unique clinical residency program which is fully accredited by the American College of Zoological Medicine. In addition, we offer a one year Aquatic Animal Health Rotating Internship which exposes the intern to various cases through our university and partnering facilities. There are also opportunities for public education under the auspices of IFAS Cooperative Extension Service. These include evening seminars for the public, workshops for aquaculturists and pet fish hobbyists, an annual Manatee Research Symposium, and a full suite of continuing education short courses in both fish and marine mammal medicine.
Finally, the aquatic animal health program has a strong research component. Areas of excellence include Florida manatee research, emerging diseases, viral diseases, sea turtle pathology, and aquaculture medicine. A clinical program run by Dr. Mike Walsh includes response to stranded marine mammals as requested by colleagues, and several clinical contracts in the region. Diagnostic services for aquaculture clients are available through the Program in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. There are also diagnostic services available through the College of Veterinary Medicine as well.