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Fatal Asphyxiation in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon.

Stolen M, St Leger J, Durden WN, Mazza T, Nilson E - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: Asphyxiated animals presented with a fish lodged in the cranial esophagus associated with a dislocated and obstructed or compressed larynx.Cetacean choking is related to selection of prey fish species with strong dorsal spines and may be secondarily associated with fish attached to fishing gear.Environmental alterations leading to changes in prey availability or increased interactions with fishing gear may change the significance of fatal choking in dolphin populations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Melbourne Beach, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Multiple single case reports of asphyxiation in dolphins caused by fish lodged in the esophagus exist. However, the significance of this cause of mortality in a single population has not been documented. We performed a retrospective evaluation of pathology records from stranded bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon to evaluate the impact of this cause of death on this population. From 1997 to 2011, asphyxiation due to choking was identified as the cause of death in 14 of 350 cases (4%). Sampling of an unrelated but adjacent population over this same period yielded 186 necropsy cases of bottlenose dolphins with no cases of asphyxiation. Asphyxiated animals presented with a fish lodged in the cranial esophagus associated with a dislocated and obstructed or compressed larynx. There was no clear sex predilection. Affected animals included 12 adults and two juveniles. The fish species involved included sheepshead, black chin tilapia and striped mojarra. In five cases, recreational fishing gear was also present. Cetacean choking is related to selection of prey fish species with strong dorsal spines and may be secondarily associated with fish attached to fishing gear. Prey abundance and dolphin behavior may influence these selections. Environmental alterations leading to changes in prey availability or increased interactions with fishing gear may change the significance of fatal choking in dolphin populations.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Map of study area.Study area on the central east coast of Florida. The Indian River Lagoon is comprised of three interconnected water bodies separated from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands. Records of stranded dolphins that died of asphyxiation are symbolized as blue dots.
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pone-0066828-g001: Map of study area.Study area on the central east coast of Florida. The Indian River Lagoon is comprised of three interconnected water bodies separated from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands. Records of stranded dolphins that died of asphyxiation are symbolized as blue dots.

Mentions: The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is a shallow estuary system that extends approximately 220 km along the east coast of central Florida [1] (Fig. 1). While the estuary is open to the Atlantic Ocean at five inlets, there is a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) within the lagoon that demonstrates high site fidelity. These animals comprise a defined stock [2] and are monitored regularly within the lagoon.


Fatal Asphyxiation in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon.

Stolen M, St Leger J, Durden WN, Mazza T, Nilson E - PLoS ONE (2013)

Map of study area.Study area on the central east coast of Florida. The Indian River Lagoon is comprised of three interconnected water bodies separated from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands. Records of stranded dolphins that died of asphyxiation are symbolized as blue dots.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3686726&req=5

pone-0066828-g001: Map of study area.Study area on the central east coast of Florida. The Indian River Lagoon is comprised of three interconnected water bodies separated from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands. Records of stranded dolphins that died of asphyxiation are symbolized as blue dots.
Mentions: The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is a shallow estuary system that extends approximately 220 km along the east coast of central Florida [1] (Fig. 1). While the estuary is open to the Atlantic Ocean at five inlets, there is a population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) within the lagoon that demonstrates high site fidelity. These animals comprise a defined stock [2] and are monitored regularly within the lagoon.

Bottom Line: Asphyxiated animals presented with a fish lodged in the cranial esophagus associated with a dislocated and obstructed or compressed larynx.Cetacean choking is related to selection of prey fish species with strong dorsal spines and may be secondarily associated with fish attached to fishing gear.Environmental alterations leading to changes in prey availability or increased interactions with fishing gear may change the significance of fatal choking in dolphin populations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Melbourne Beach, Florida, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Multiple single case reports of asphyxiation in dolphins caused by fish lodged in the esophagus exist. However, the significance of this cause of mortality in a single population has not been documented. We performed a retrospective evaluation of pathology records from stranded bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon to evaluate the impact of this cause of death on this population. From 1997 to 2011, asphyxiation due to choking was identified as the cause of death in 14 of 350 cases (4%). Sampling of an unrelated but adjacent population over this same period yielded 186 necropsy cases of bottlenose dolphins with no cases of asphyxiation. Asphyxiated animals presented with a fish lodged in the cranial esophagus associated with a dislocated and obstructed or compressed larynx. There was no clear sex predilection. Affected animals included 12 adults and two juveniles. The fish species involved included sheepshead, black chin tilapia and striped mojarra. In five cases, recreational fishing gear was also present. Cetacean choking is related to selection of prey fish species with strong dorsal spines and may be secondarily associated with fish attached to fishing gear. Prey abundance and dolphin behavior may influence these selections. Environmental alterations leading to changes in prey availability or increased interactions with fishing gear may change the significance of fatal choking in dolphin populations.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus