Diseases, lesions and malformations in the long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis from the Southeast Pacific

Marie Françoise Van Bressem, Koen Van Waerebeek, David Montes, Seamus Kennedy, Julio C. Reyes, Ignacio A. Garcia-Godos, Karina Onton-Silva, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto

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Miscellaneous lesions of the head, skull, teeth, trunk, appendages, skin and genital tract were observed in 120 of 930 long-beaked common dolphins Delphinus capensis taken in fisheries off Peru between 1985 and 2000. Seven subsamples were defined according to the varying field sampling protocols. Forty-two dolphins showed at least 2 types of injuries or diseases affecting 1 or more organs. The majority (5 of 7) of traumas encountered were diagnosed as caused by violent, fisheries-related interactions, and the skin in 20.4 % of specimens (n = 54) showed healed scars from such interactions. Prevalences of malformations and traumas of crania (n = 103) were 2.9 and 1.9 %, respectively. Lytic cranial lesions were present in 31.1 % of dolphins (n = 103) and accounted for 84.2 % of all bone injuries. Skull damage diagnostic for Crassicauda sp. infestation was encountered in 26.5 % of dolphins (n = 98) and did not differ among sex and age classes. Crassicauda sp. and tooth infections were responsible for, respectively, 78.8 and 6.1 % of the lytic lesions. Adult dolphins showed a high prevalence of worn and broken teeth (35 %, n = 20) as well as damaged alveoli (20 %, n = 70). Prevalence of 'paired teeth', a congenital condition, was 9.4 % (n = 32). Lesions of the head, body and appendages were present in 10 dolphins and included traumas, deformations (e.g. scoliokyphosis and brachygnathia) and chronic mastitis. Ovarian cysts suggestive of follicular cysts were observed in 1 of 24 females. Chronic orchitis affected 1 of 78 males. Of 12 dolphins 2 had vesicular lesions of the penis. Prevalence of cutaneous lesions, abnormalities and scars ranged between 1.8 % (n = 56) and 48.2 % (n = 27).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number2
StatePublished - 30 Jan 2006


  • Crassicauda sp.
  • Delphinus capensis
  • Diseases
  • Fisheries interactions
  • Malformations
  • Orchitis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Skin
  • Skull
  • Traumas


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