A case study of monofilament line entanglement in a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): entanglement, disentanglement, and subsequent death
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A case study of monofilament line entanglement in a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): entanglement, disentanglement, and subsequent death

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  • Journal Title:
    BMC Veterinary Research
  • Description:
    Background: Free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) can become entangled in fishing line and other marine debris. Infrequently, dolphins can be successfully disentangled, released back into the wild, and later examined postmortem to better understand the pathology and long-term effects of these entanglements.

    Case presentation: An entangled common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) calf was observed in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, USA, with monofilament fishing line wrapped tightly around its maxilla. A multi-agency team successfully disentangled the dolphin for immediate release back into its natural habitat. A year after disentanglement, photos and observations indicated that the now independent calf showed a decline in body condition, characterized by grossly visible ribs and a prominent post-nuchal depression. More than 2 years post-disentanglement, the freshly dead carcass of this juvenile dolphin was recovered with extensive predation wounds. Despite the forestomach being ~ 50% full of ingesta (fish), the dolphin was emaciated. During postmortem examination, we collected and evaluated photographs and measurements of the maxillary damage resulting from the entanglement.

    Conclusion: The monofilament entanglement caused permanent, bilateral deformation of the maxillary dental arcade, including a 4.0-4.2 cm long, 0.5 cm deep linear groove where the entanglement eroded the lateral edges of the maxilla. There was no evidence of maxillary fracture and the dolphin survived for more than 2 years after disentanglement. External evidence of propeller scars and a fishing hook discovered embedded in the laryngeal mucosa at necropsy indicated repeated human interactions.

  • Source:
    BMC Vet Res. 2020 Jun 30;16(1):223.
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    CC BY
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