Stranded Dolphin

by firmm Team

Text: Manuela Ablasser 1-1c025f3f3d6209715318f3e1689ca9e7 (firmm volunteer)


At noon our colleague Slava returned to our office and informed us that he had been taking pictures of a stranded dolphin in Las Palomas islands. When Katharina saw the photos, she immediately called C.R.E.M.A. (Centro de Recuperacion de Especies Marinas de Andalucia) to inform them of the news.
C.R.E.M.A. is administered by "Aula del Mar" in Malaga, founded in 1994 and linked to the network CREA (Centro de Recuperacion de Especies Amenazadas or Center for Recovery of Threatened Species), under the authority of the "Consejeria de Medio Ambiente de la Junta de Andalucia" (Environmental Consul of Andalucia). CREMA is the first point of contact for stranding alerts in the coast of Andalucia.

1-1f61be7cc4fa9dd4e094a153d4af2fc6 Picture: stranded dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) in Las Palomas island beach

I immediately took off with Christine to examine the animal, take measurements and photographs.
It was a female 310 cm. long. Females can be identified by the creases in the mammary glands or by measuring the distance from the genital opening to the anal opening. This distance is shorter in females. After taking the pictures - not an easy task thanks to the wind and the tide - an employee of EGMASA (Empresa de Destion Medioambiental) arrived to take pictures as well. He informed C.R.E.M.A. of the status of the dolphin and decided that the animal was in good enough condition to perform an autopsy. He mentioned that later in the afternoon a veterinarian could come to examine the bottlenose dolphin.
A few hours later I returned to the island to wait for the vet. When he arrived, I asked if I could assist and he agreed. Despite the increasing Levante winds, the veterinarian measured the dolphin once more while I took pictures of the animal and its internal organs during the autopsy.
The dolphin appeared malnourished and her skin had deteriorated after being stranded in the swell and rocks. It was likely to have been an older dolphin since its teeth were worn down and many were missing. After the external examination, we opened the thorax to inspect the internal organs. The lymph nodes were noticeably dilated and altered, and the liver and lungs looked unhealthy.
When we opened the stomach ,we noticed barbed wire and pieces of fishing nets.

Picture: stomach containing fishing nets

The veterinarian took tissue samples as well as excrement and blood samples in order to perform laboratory analysis of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Unfortunately we have yet to receive any lab results.

It was a very interesting experience to be able to assist in the autopsy and to hear the veterinarian's comments about the organs of the animal, despite the fact that I didn't know many of the Spanish terms that were used. But thanks to Latin, we were able to understand each other.

(Jose Stirling Crevoisier) veterinarian

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