[MARMAM] Adriatic bottlenose dolphin with a large wound

Tilen Genov tilen.genov at gmail.com
Sun Nov 13 08:37:30 PST 2005

Dear MARMAM and ECS subscribers,

During the course of the Slovenian Dolphin Project, a long-term
project on research and conservation of wild bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting Slovenian Sea and the surrounding
waters (northern Adriatic Sea), carried out by Morigenos – marine
mammal research and conservation society from Slovenia, we came across
an unusual sighting.

On 8th July 2005, during one of our regular surveys we encountered a
dolphin with a large wound on its ventral side of the body (chest /
belly). The wound was noticed thanks to the dolphin's aerial
The wound was diamond-shaped and estimated to be around 10 cm in
diameter. It seems that muscle tissue has been exposed.

The photos of the dolphin and its wound can be seen at
Please let us know if you have any problems opening the photos.

We have never witnessed anything like this before.
Given the appearance of the wound, we seriously doubt that the injury
could have been inflicted by the animal's conspecifics.
We are sceptical about the possibility of a shark bite, as large
sharks are very rarely present in the area and to us the wound does
not look as if it was inflicted by a shark bite.
Some people noted that the shape of the wound reminds them of a
harpoon wound...

Photo-identification enabled the recognition of the wounded dolphin.
It is a presumed female, one of our most resident animals, with the
highest re-sighting rate of all the catalogued animals. We have been
regularly encountering that animal since the beginning of our
photo-identification work, started in 2003. It is usually seen in
groups of around 10 animals of mixed gender and age (including calves
and newborns).

After the described observation, we have been regularly encountering
that dolphin throughout the summer.

The wounded dolphin did not show any abnormal behaviour and did not
show any signs of trauma. Moreover, it performed displays such as
leaps and breaches. This dolphin often approaches the research vessel
and it is often seen swimming next to mothers with their newborns. It
is also repeatedly involved in interactions with open-water pair
trawlers and bottom trawlers. Throughout the season it was obviously
behaving as a normal member of the group.

We would be very interested to hear any suggestions on what might have
inflicted that wound and to hear if anyone else has ever come across
such wounds in dolphins inhabiting other areas.

We are willing to summarize all the responses we get and post them on
the mailing list.

Sincerely Yours,

Tilen Genov
tilen.genov at gmail.com

Morigenos – marine mammal research
and conservation society

Jarska cesta 36/a
1000 Ljubljana


Morigenos - marine mammal research and conservation society is a
non-profit non-governmental organization from Slovenia, dedicated to
marine mammal research and conservation and the preservation of marine

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