[MARMAM] Abnormal swelling in Stenella frontalis: summary of responses

Fabian Ritter, MEER e.V. ritter at m-e-e-r.de
Fri Nov 13 06:14:15 PST 2009

Dear All,
Thanks to everybody who responded to our previous posting concerning the 
abnormal swelling observed in a young spotted dolphin off La Gomera 
(Canary Islands). We have received a multitude of comments as well as a 
variety of ideas and diagnoses, including a conclusive one. Several 
similar observations were described, involving both spotted dolphin 
calves in the Azores and the Canaries as well as a juvenile/young adult 
male grey seal. We have placed some additional images from our 
colleagues on our website at:
Potential reasons for the abnormal swelling in the spotted dolphin calf 
included the following:
-         congenital umbilical hernia
-         contaminants responsible for dysfunction of the endocrine system
-         congested mammary glands
-         a "good slam" causing internal swelling and hemorrhage
-         rudimentary hind limbs
-         some type of tumour
-         parasitic/bacterial infection (crassicauda, brucella, etc.)
Moreover, a small animal veterinarian explained that in young cats there 
is a disease called fibroadenomatous hyperplasia that makes the mammary 
glands swell quite significantly.
Finally, our colleagues from the University of Las Palmas/Gran Canaria 
(ULPGC) resolved the puzzle by describing a similar case they had a few 
years ago: A stranded spotted dolphin calf was necropsied and the ULPGC 
pathologists found the reason to be a bacterial abscess, most probably 
caused by a (secondary) infection of a /Phyllobotrium delfini/ cyst. 
This infection could have been caused by an open wound, and the abscess 
apparently had grown exuberantly so as to cause an obstruction of the 
ureter, which in turn lead to the death and the stranding of the animal. 
An image of this animal can be seen following the link above.
Thank you all again, I hope this will be of interest to other 
researchers coming across something similar in the future.
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