DAO 68:149-165 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/dao068149

Diseases, lesions and malformations in the long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis from the Southeast Pacific

Marie-Françoise Van Bressem1,6,*, Koen Van Waerebeek1, David Montes1, Seamus Kennedy2, Julio C. Reyes3, Ignacio A. Garcia-Godos1,4, Karina Onton-Silva1, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto1,5

1Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research (CEPEC), Museo de Delfines, Pucusana, Lima 20, Peru
2Veterinary Sciences Division, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SD, UK
3Areas Costeras y Recursos Marinos (ACOREMA), Av. San Martín 1471, Pisco, Peru
4Area de Aves y Mamíferos Marinos, Instituto del Mar del Perú, Apdo. 22, Callao, Peru
5Asociación ProDelphinus, Jiron Octavio Bernal 572-5, Lima 11, Peru
6Present address: Centre for Cetacean Conservation Medicine, CEPEC, Waldspielplatz 11, 82319 Starnberg, Germany

ABSTRACT: Miscellaneous lesions of the head, skull, teeth, trunk, appendages, skin and genital tract were observed in 120 of 930 long-beaked common dolphins Delphinus capensis taken in fisheries off Peru between 1985 and 2000. Seven subsamples were defined according to the varying field sampling protocols. Forty-two dolphins showed at least 2 types of injuries or diseases affecting 1 or more organs. The majority (5 of 7) of traumas encountered were diagnosed as caused by violent, fisheries-related interactions, and the skin in 20.4% of specimens (n = 54) showed healed scars from such interactions. Prevalences of malformations and traumas of crania (n = 103) were 2.9 and 1.9%, respectively. Lytic cranial lesions were present in 31.1% of dolphins (n = 103) and accounted for 84.2% of all bone injuries. Skull damage diagnostic for Crassicauda sp. infestation was encountered in 26.5% of dolphins (n = 98) and did not differ among sex and age classes. Crassicauda sp. and tooth infections were responsible for, respectively, 78.8 and 6.1% of the lytic lesions. Adult dolphins showed a high prevalence of worn and broken teeth (35%, n = 20) as well as damaged alveoli (20%, n = 70). Prevalence of ‘paired teeth’, a congenital condition, was 9.4% (n = 32). Lesions of the head, body and appendages were present in 10 dolphins and included traumas, deformations (e.g. scoliokyphosis and brachygnathia) and chronic mastitis. Ovarian cysts suggestive of follicular cysts were observed in 1 of 24 females. Chronic orchitis affected 1 of 78 males. Of 12 dolphins 2 had vesicular lesions of the penis. Prevalence of cutaneous lesions, abnormalities and scars ranged between 1.8% (n = 56) and 48.2% (n = 27).


KEY WORDS: Delphinus capensis · Diseases · Skull · Crassicauda sp. · Skin · Malformations · Fisheries interactions · Traumas · Ovarian cysts · Orchitis


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