Note: Presenting vertebral deformities in bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus calves from a protected population in northeast Scotland

Photographs collected during a 23 yr photo-identification study in the Moray Firth were examined to assess the prevalence, type and severity of vertebral deformations present in bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus calves. Fifteen cases of presenting spinal anomalies (scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis and combinations thereof) of variable severity were identified in 7.4% of all known calves from the population. Thirteen of the 15 anomalies were either manifest from birth or acquired from an early age, as ascertained from longitudinal sightings histories of their mothers. Most afflicted calves died during early development or shortly after maternal separation. However, 3 survived to adulthood and persist in the population to date, in addition to 2 dependent infants whose fate remains to be established. At 15+ yr of age, the oldest surviving individual was remarkably one of the most severe cases identified, highlighting the ability of these delphinids for adaptation to such gross structural deformities. The aetiology of the observed conditions could be attributed to a range of causative factors that may have implications for the well-being and health of this North Sea coastal dolphin population, a topic which merits further investigation.


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Authors: Robinson, Kevin P., Haskins, Gary N., Eisfeld-Pierantonio, Sonja M., Sidiropoulos, Theofilos, Bamford, Connor C.G. ORCIDORCID record for Connor C.G. Bamford

On this site: Connor Bamford
23 July, 2020
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms / 140
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