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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 116:59-67 (2015)  -  DOI:

Vertebral column deformities in white-beaked dolphins from the eastern North Atlantic

Chiara G. Bertulli1,*, Anders Galatius2, Carl C. Kinze3, Marianne H. Rasmussen4, Rob Deaville5, Paul Jepson5, Elisabeth J. Vedder7, Guillermo J. Sánchez Contreras7, Richard C. Sabin8, Alastair Watson

1Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Sturlugata 7, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
2Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
3Rosenørns Alle 55 2tv. 1970 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
4Húsavík Research Center, University of Iceland, 640 Húsavík, Iceland
5UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, Zoological Society of London, London NW1 4RY, UK
6De groene bron, Hoofdstraat 61, 9968 AB Pieterburen, The Netherlands
7Veterinary Department, Zeehondencrèche - Seal Rehabilitation and Research Center (SRRC), Pieterburen, The Netherlands
8Vertebrate Zoology Group, Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK
9Department of Physiological Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-2014, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Five white-beaked dolphins Lagenorhynchus albirostris with outwardly vertebral kyphosis, kyphoscoliosis or lordosis were identified during a photo-identification survey of over 400 individuals (2002-2013) in Faxaflói and Skjálfandi Bays, Iceland. In addition, 3 stranding reports from Denmark, The Netherlands and the UK were analysed, providing both external observation and post mortem details of axial deviations of the vertebral column in this species. Two of the free-ranging cases and 2 of the stranded specimens appeared to have an acquired disease, either as a direct result of trauma, or indirectly from trauma/wound and subsequent infection and bony proliferation, although we were unable to specifically identify the causes. Our data represent a starting point to understand vertebral column deformations and their implications in white-beaked dolphins from the eastern North Atlantic. We recommend for future necropsy cases to conduct macro- and microscopic evaluation of muscle from both sides of the deformed region, in order to assess chronic or acute conditions related to the vertebral deformations and cause of death.

KEY WORDS: Vertebral column deformity · Kyphosis · Kyphoscoliosis · Lordosis · White-beaked dolphin · Lagenorhynchus albirostris

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Cite this article as: Bertulli CG, Galatius A, Kinze CC, Rasmussen MH and others (2015) Vertebral column deformities in white-beaked dolphins from the eastern North Atlantic. Dis Aquat Org 116:59-67.

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