Here’s a look at some of the work being done by UC Davis One Health Institute faculty members. Sticking with the theme, these projects all focus on issues related to coastal environments. Visit the OHI website to see what other species we’re working with throughout the world. 

Do Harbor Seals Get Brucellosis? 

While most people think of brucellosis as a disease that hits bison, elk and cattle - especially around the Greater Yellowstone Area - harbor seals and other marine mammals also can be infected. SeaDoc's Joe Gaydos and other collaborators recently published a paper in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases that unravels the mystery of how this pathogen is transmitted in seals. (More on Gaydos' work below). Get involved! 

Lost Fishing Gear: New Grant to Work With Dungeness Crab Gear

This ongoing project encourages ocean users to report the presence of lost gear, and hires experienced commercial SCUBA divers to remove gear from near-shore waters in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner. We contract with sea urchin divers in central and southern California, and we recently received a grant to work with Dungeness crab fishing communities in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties to implement a fisherman-led gear-recovery program in northern California. The crab fisheries are in full force during the Winter, but cleanup efforts will resume in August-November. Get involved! 

From a Love of Otters to the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center 

Karen C. Drayer’s involvement with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine began more than 15 years ago, when a life-long interest in pets and wildlife, especially sea otters, attracted her to our work with otter health in the Monterey Bay.

In 1998, she and her husband Phil partnered with the School of Veterinary Medicine and provided much-needed funds and personal guidance to develop the Wildlife Health Center, which grew to become a center of excellence with an annual budget of more than $21 million.

The Drayers were honored for their avid support of wildlife health research in 2008, when they received the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award. As a volunteer, Karen has logged more than 5,000 hours at institutions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Fort Worth Zoo, among others. She has more than 10 years of sea otter rescue and rehabilitation experience and is now also a board member at the Dallas Zoo.

Karen’s service, dedication, passion, and commitment to the Wildlife Health Center and her friends and family make her the perfect namesake for our similarly motivated work, balancing the needs of people and wildlife. Support the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center

Karen is an incredible woman who has always dedicated herself to wildlife. From wildlife rehabilitation to zoo work to free ranging species conservation, she has done it all. Karen has generously given of her time, intellectual horsepower, and financial resources to the Wildlife Health Center from day one. There’s not a better person for whom we could name this center.
— Jonna Mazet, Director

Oilapalooza! Education & Adventure in San Diego

Oilapalooza 2013 offered up a weekend filled with sea turtles, an amazing raptor demonstration, plenty of cute baby birds and a sobering introduction to the changes in oil movement through California. Get involved with oil spill response!

Our intrepid team of Oiled Wildlife Care Network staff, biologists and wildlife rehabilitators braved one of the coldest nights of the year to capture common murres for a much-anticipated research project to study the effects of chemical dispersants and chemically dispersed oil on the waterproofing of seabirds.

The birds were brought back to Davis, where they were housed in our research pools for the first part of our study.  Each bird received an intake exam and the pools were videotaped to get baseline data on their overall health and behavior.  The purpose of this project was to determine the effects of dispersant and chemically dispersed oil on the waterproofing and health of the birds, as measured by temperature, waterproofing exams, and behavior, as well as a magnitude of other parameters.

To expose the animals to dispersant, oil, or a combination of the two, we built a mixing pump that helped us mimic dispersant and/or oil moving through the water column in the ocean. Read the full round-up here and get involved here!

Joe Gaydos Honored by Seattle Aquarium 

Gaydos pre-dive May 2010 Anders boat.jpeg

The Seattle Aquarium has awarded Joe Gaydos, a senior wildlife veterinarian at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, their Conservation Research Award. Gaydos received the award at the annual Chairman’s Dinner reception on Thursday, January 16 at the Seattle Aquarium. 

Gaydos, director and chief scientist for the Wildlife Health Center’s SeaDoc Society Program in Washington State, has been working on wildlife and ecosystem health issues in the Pacific Northwest for more than a decade. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers on diseases that impact human and wild animal health in species like harbor seals, river otters, porpoises and killer whales. Read more

Support SeaDoc Society!

Endangered Delta Smelt & Assisted Reproductive Technology 

Delta smelt are one of the most severely endangered fish species in California, but researchers at UC Davis are working to boost important environmental sentinel's wild population.

"They mate in very shallow water," said Stuart Meyers, Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. "The more the water quality declines, the less these fish are able to mate and reproduce. We want to look at using assisted reproductive technology on captive populations for eventual release into the wild."

That process starts with cryopreservation of sperm, which has already begun, "then you literally mix the sperm with eggs and you have a very high rate of fertilization." Females typically lay their eggs on the floor of the delta, but in this case they would do so in small tanks. Sperm is then thawed and mixed with eggs.

The goal after reproduction will be to repopulate the delta smelt into the wild with hopes of helping the endangered species rebound, and then potentially applying the same practices to other endangered fish species.

See more work at