Caitness (UK), 27 juni 2016 – An Atlantic white-sided dolphin was observed swimming erratically and stranding alive at Dunnet Bay, Caithness, last Monday. Teams from BDMLR and SSPCA made multiple refloating attempts, but the animal kept stranding and was subsequently euthanized. SMASS collected the carcase and performed a necropsy on Wednesday.
The adult male was 246cm long, weighed 180.5kg, was in a good nutritional condition and showed signs of being an aged animal with warn- and some missing teeth. There was pathology associated with the process of live stranding with bruising over both scapula, lung asymmetry, and sand in the mouth and oesophagus. Interestingly there was also a longstanding arthritis present, where the first cervical vertebra of the spine appeared to be fused together with the articulation to the back of the skull (see photo). This may be associated with a Brucella infection, as has been seen before in this (and other) species. The case is awaiting further bacteriological and histopathological examination to confirm this finding.
Big thanks to BDMLR, SSPCA, and all others involved with this stranding for their efforts. Additionally many thanks to all who made it possible for us to easily retrieve the carcase for post mortem examination!