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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 140:103-108 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03498

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

Kevin P. Robinson1,*, Gary N. Haskins1, Sonja M. Eisfeld-Pierantonio1,2, Theofilos Sidiropoulos1, Connor C. G. Bamford1,3,4

1Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU), PO Box 11307, Banff, AB45 3WB, UK
2Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC), Brookfield House, Chippenham, SN15 1LJ, UK
3British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK
4University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: 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.


KEY WORDS: Vertebral column deformity · Scoliosis · Kyphosis · Lordosis · Bottlenose dolphin · Tursiops truncatus


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Cite this article as: Robinson KP, Haskins GN, Eisfeld-Pierantonio SM, Sidiropoulos T, Bamford CCG (2020) Presenting vertebral deformities in bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus calves from a protected population in northeast Scotland. Dis Aquat Org 140:103-108. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03498

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