Live Stranding and Return of Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba (Meyen) to the Sea in Co Donegal

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  • Live Stranding and Return of Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba (Meyen) to the Sea in CoDonegalAuthor(s): D. P. Sleeman, R. Bartley, C. Griffin, C. Staunton and G. LevySource: The Irish Naturalists' Journal, Vol. 28, No. 5 (Apr. 22, 2006), pp. 220-221Published by: Irish Naturalists' Journal Ltd.Stable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 13:12

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  • Ir. Nat J. Volume 28 No 5 2006

    A living bottlenose dolphin with vertebral deformities has been frequently observed along the south-west coasts of England. It was first observed in October 1991 as a neonate with a severe deformity of its spine, resulting in the dorsal fin becoming bent through nearly 90? (Nick Tregenza pers. comm..). Two stranded bottlenose dolphins (a female calf measuring 165cm in

    length in 1993; and an adult female in 1998) with scoliosis have been recovered from the Moray Firth, north-east Scotland. The latter was only 260cm in length, which compares with a normal

    adult length of 320-330cm, demonstrating the amount of curvature of the spine (Bob Reid pers. comm.). Scoliosis has been observed in bottlenose dolphins stranded in separate incidences in the Thames (Paul Jepson pers. comm.). One with mild spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis leading to partial or complete bony fusion) in 1999 and a case of mild kyphoscoliosis in 2001.

    Vertebral column malformities have been associated with a diverse range of causative

    factors. Physical abnormalities in belugas Deiphinapterus leucas (Pallas) from the St Lawrence Estuary, Canada, were tentatively linked to high levels of organochlorines found in their tissues. Stress or exertion is also considered a potential causative factor along with spondylodiscitis as a

    result of a bacterial infection (Berghan & Visser 2000 op.cit). Congenital malformities have also been reported and are the most likely cause in those described here (Paul Jepson pers. comm.).

    They are likely to be hereditary and genetic studies may be revealing, although samples would be difficult to obtain.

    The longevity of malformed dolphins is largely unknown. The dolphin off south-west

    England was first reported as a neonate in 1991 and is now adult. It was still observed up to 2003 with a visible twist to the spine. In the Moray Firth study, calves, sub-adults and adults were observed with deformities. A bottlenose dolphin in Sarasota Bay, Florida with scoliosis in the caudal penduncle region has been observed for the last 20 years (Berghan & Visser 2000 op.cit.) but longevity is probably determined by the severity of the malformity. Given the severity of the

    scoliosis in the Shannon Estuary dolphin it is unlikely this dolphin survived weaning; however the dolphin reported from Galway Bay might have survived for a number of years.

    We encourage observers to report incidences of vertebral column malformities in dolphins in Ireland so as to determine the extent of this condition. Records of malformed dolphins could give

    an insight into the movements of bottlenose dolphins as they are relatively easily recognised individuals.

    We would like to thank Deirdre Noonan of Widervision for obtaining video footage of the dolphin in the Shannon Estuary, the National Parks and Wildlife Service for funding to JO'B and Dr Don Cotton for considerably improving this note.

    Simon Berrow

    Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation, Merchants Quay, Kilrush, Co Clare

    Joanne O'Brien

    School of Science, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Galway

    Live stranding and return of striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba (Meyen) to the sea in Co Donegal

    On the morning of 28 August 2005 at about 11:10 am we observed two dolphins close to the south-west shore of Rutland Island, Co Donegal (B7113). The animals had long beaks and the characteristic markings of striped dolphins; observations were verified by still and video

    photography. A common seal Phoca vitulina and a grey seal Halichoerus grypus were seen in the

    same vicinity. After circling around the area for about an hour the adult dolphin stranded on a

    sandy beach. Within about one minute three of us returned it to the sea. About 10 minutes later we came upon the calf, which was about 0.5m in length, stranded on rocks nearby. It had possibly been there from before the time the adult stranded. It was also returned to the sea. This incident was all over by 12:00 am. Since then, there have been no reported strandings of this species nearby, that we are aware of (Dave Duggan, Dave Friel and Padraig Whooley pers. comm.), which

    suggests the efforts to 'rescue' these animals were not in vain.


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  • Ir. Nat J. Volume 28 No 5 2006

    We wish to thank Dave Friel of Donegal County Council, Dave Duggan of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group for advice. Johnny Logan for entertainment, taking the photographs and helping return the adults

    D. P. Sleeman

    Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant Science, University College, Cork

    R. Bartley, C. Griffin, C. Staunton and G. Levy

    Crossing the Line Films, Sommerville House, Church Road, Greystones, Co Wicklow

    Field Records - Insects

    Fleas from bank voles {Clethrionomys glareolus Schreber) near

    Foynes, Co Limerick

    One of us (PS) trapped small mammals in woodland scrub near Foynes Port, Co Limerick (R2352) to provide tissues for genetic research. Thirty break back traps were set in each night on 8, 9 and 10 of March 2005 and as any traps that went missing were replaced on each day, a total of 90 trap nights was realized. In an effort to catch voles, the traps were set in dense cover which was

    mainly provided by ivy Hedera sp. Twenty one voles Clethrionomys glareolus Schreber and five wood mice Apodemus sytvaticus (L.) were captured. When the voles were examined several days later a total of 13 fleas were recovered:- 2


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