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A CSIP team from ZSL are travelling to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to conduct a demonstration necropsy at an event tonight. The event titled 'Under the Knife- a cetacean post-mortem' will follow a similar format to the CSI of the Sea events held by ZSL and will feature the examination of a common dolphin found stranded in Worthing on 11th March.
Images credit NMA and Adur & Worthing Councils.
Many thanks to everyone who tuned in last night to watch last nights CSI of the Sea necropsy event, hope you all found it interesting. Some of you have said you weren't able to watch it live yesterday and have asked if there would be a way to see the footage- an archived version of the broadcast has now been uploaded to the ZSL YouTube channel. Huge thanks to everyone who helped setup and run the event, it was a great collaborative team effort.
Join us tonight at 7pm, for a chance to watch a common dolphin necropsy being carried out by a CSIP team from ZSL and to learn more about the issue of by-catch.
Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow evening from 7pm to learn more about what happened to this common dolphin that stranded at Torre Abbey Sands in Devon on 23rd February. Join us via the link below or through the ZSL YouTube channel, for a chance to observe the necropsy as it takes place over real time.
Images credit Torbay Council Coastal Team and Ben Coles
For anyone interested in learning more about the work of the UK strandings programme- on the evening of Monday 12th March, a CSIP team from ZSL will be carrying out a necropsy of a cetacean during a live online event. We’ll be using the necropsy in the next instalment of the ‘CSI of the Sea’ series to focus on the issue of by-catch.
The event is being run as part of British Science Week and will be broadcast live via the link above from 19:00 GMT.
Two updates on strandings reported on Friday. A harbour porpoise was found dead stranded at Wiseman’s bridge in Pembrokeshire and Marine Environmental Monitoring recovered the body yesterday. A short-beaked common dolphin was also found dead stranded at Welcombe beach in Devon on Friday- a CSIP team from ZSL recovered the body this evening, whilst travelling to Cornwall to assist with some demonstration necropsies tomorrow at the University of Exeter Cornwall (Penryn campus)....
Necropsies will be carried out on both animals and updates posted if appropriate.
Many thanks to Natasha Fenwick, Julie@glittersocks16, Tom Mustill and Dave Jenkins
Images credit Julie@glittersocks16, Dave Jenkins and CSIP-ZSL
Over the last quarterly period (1st October-31st December 2017), the CSIP consortium received reports of 209 cetaceans (representing at least 12 species). The largest number of cetaceans were reported in England (n=78) and Scotland (n=77), with smaller numbers in Wales (n=48) and Northern Ireland (n=6). Of the 209 reported cetaceans, 200 were reported as dead strandings, eight as live strandings (two of which were refloated) and one was found dead at sea. Six marine turtles ...were also reported in the UK during the same period. One stranded porbeagle shark was reported. No stranded basking sharks were reported.
Forty-five stranded cetaceans, one stranded marine turtle and one stranded porbeagle shark were recovered for examination at post-mortem, with causes of death including a number of instances of by-catch, asphyxiation sequential to blockage of the nasal passage by a flatfish, intestinal intussusception and generalised bacterial infections with a variety of bacteria.
One peer-reviewed paper was published during the last quarter and several others are in review or have been submitted for review. Numerous presentations, demonstration necropsies and outreach events were also facilitated by the CSIP over the quarter.
Data from this period will be finalised and collated within the 2017 annual report, which is being drafted at the moment.
Many thanks once again to all the agencies, volunteers and members of public who reported strandings to us or helped with recoveries.
Images credit various
Update on the necropsy of a short-beaked common dolphin, found dead stranded at Ovingdean Gap near Brighton on 1st February (SW2018/41). A CSIP team from ZSL recovered the body and carried out the necropsy last week.
The 166cm juvenile male was judged to be in moderate nutritional condition at death. Light parasitic burdens were present in the airways and also in the blubber around the anogenital region. However, the most significant finding was a severe impaction of bones, ...otoliths and fish eye lenses in the cardiac stomach, extending up through the length of the oesophagus. Aspirated bones and digesta were also noted within the bronchial tree as well. The impaction would have limited effective feeding and would probably be linked to the loss of nutritional condition and the death of the animal. The interim cause of death has therefore been given as ‘starvation, sequel to gastric impaction (fish bones)’
Several cases like this one have been recorded around the UK in recent years, including a number of other short-beaked common dolphins, as well as in white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. It is not currently clear why these cases occur, but they may represent aberrant feeding behaviour or be indicative of some underlying pathological issue.
Further research on these cases is ongoing and it would be interesting to learn whether our colleagues in adjacent stranding networks may have also observed similar cases.
Many thanks to the Brighton & Hove beach seafront team for their help with the recovery of the body.
Images credit CSIP-ZSL and the Brighton and Hove Beach Seafront Team
We're really pleased to be able to confirm that the UK strandings contract, funded by Defra and Scottish and Welsh governments, has been renewed for another three years. This is great news, particularly at a time when publicly funded programmes face increasing financial pressure.
Alongside the continued investigation and necropsy of stranded cetaceans and marine turtles, the projects remit has also been expanded to include the examination of stranded large bodied sharks, suc...h as the porbeagle (Lamna nasus). We’re really interested in trying to learn more about the threats that all these iconic marine species face in UK waters, so that the information from the strandings programme can help inform efforts to improve their long term conservation status.
Thanks to everyone for their continued support of the programme and thank you to everyone who reports strandings to us. Despite what has been said in some quarters recently, every stranding report is of real value and we are incredibly grateful and thankful for the efforts and assistance of the British public at stranding events. Thanks again for all your help and see you all on the beaches soon.
Update on the necropsy of the harbour porpoise found stranded at Sewerby, near Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire (SW2018/18). To recap the case history, the porpoise was found live stranded at Sewerby on 14th January. Members of British Divers Marine Life Rescue attended and found that the majority of the right tail fluke was missing. As a result of the injuries, the harbour porpoise was euthanized on welfare grounds.
The necropsy, carried out by a CSIP team at ZS...L, found that the 142cm adult male harbour porpoise was in moderate nutritional condition and had no evidence of recent feeding. The loss of the right tail fluke was considered to be consistent with canid predation/scavenging, as has been observed at other stranding events in the UK and Europe;
e.g. Haelters, J. et al. (2016) A Suspected Scavenging Event by Red Foxes on a Live, Stranded Harbour Porpoise. Aquatic Mammals 42(2), 227-232, DOI 10.1578/AM.42.2.2016.227.
A moderate-heavy burden of nematode parasites was present in the airways of both lungs and also within the pulmonary arteries. In addition, large, consolidated and pneumonic regions were noted in the cranial sections of each lung. Subsequent microbiological culture indicated the presence of the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus in pure culture in lung tissue and also within the brain. The cause of death has therefore been given as ‘pneumonia, parasitic and mycotic (Aspergillus fumigatus)’. Follow up histopathological confirmation is also pending.
The necropsy was also attended by BBC Radio 4 and featured on a segment on iPM at the weekend.
Many thanks to our colleagues in BDMLR, particularly Rocky Clark and Em Mayman. Thanks also to Luke Jones from BBC iPM.
Images credit CSIP-ZSL
Update on the demonstration necropsy conducted at Bangor last week by CSIP staff from ZSL and MEM. The animal in question was a 147cm adult male harbour porpoise, which was found dead stranded at Aberffraw in Anglesey on 28th July last year (SW2017/417). It was judged to be in moderate nutritional condition and there was no evidence of recent feeding. Extensive tattoo lesions (probably associated with pox virus infection) were noted over much of the dorsal epidermis. Moderate... parasitic burdens were noted in the fundic stomach and bronchi (airways), with lighter burdens also noted in the pulmonary arteries, tympanic bullae (ears) and liver.
The most significant finding however was the presence of a large volume (~2-300ml) of turbid fluid in the peritoneal cavity, along with a moderate quantity of nematode parasites, visually identified as Anisakis simplex, a species that is normally found within cetacean stomachs. A ~2cm hole in the fundic stomach wall appeared to be the cause of the release of gastric fluid into the peritoneal cavity. The hole was associated with gross thickening and reaction within the surrounding inner stomach wall - several other areas of severe ulceration were also noted inside the stomach. The presence of fibrinous material/plaques within the peritoneal cavity and the appearance of the perforation itself indicated that there was probably a degree of chronicity to the lesions.
Follow up bacterial culture found Escherichia coli in pure culture in the spleen, kidney and diaphragm. This would be consistent with the release of gastric contents into the peritoneal cavity, as this is a common enteric bacterium. The cause of death has therefore been given as “peritonitis (E. coli), sequential to perforated fundic stomach wall”.
Around 100 members of public attended the evening. A location for the next necropsy event in Wales is being investigated at the moment- watch this space for more information!
Many thanks to Nia Jones at the North Wales Wildlife Trust for helping to organise the event and to Rhys Morgan, Emlyn Roberts, Louise Thurlow and the rest of the staff of Bangor University for hosting and assistance during the necropsy. Thanks also to our colleagues at Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales and to the volunteers of the North Wales Mammal Group.
Images credit CSIP-ZSL
Good luck to our colleagues in the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, who are holding their first forum tomorrow at the UHI Campus Inverness. This sold out event will feature a number of presentations and workshops- should be a great day, hope it goes well!
Two short-beaked common dolphins were reported dead stranded at Duporth near St Austell in Cornwall on 15th January (SW2018/19.1 and SW2018/19.2). Both had excised tail sections and other evidence potentially consistent with fisheries interaction (bycatch). The bodies were recovered yesterday and necropsies were carried out last night by a CSIP pathologist from the University of Exeter and Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network volunteers.
Given the proximity of t...hese stranding events, it is likely that they were both bycaught at or around the same time and in the same vicinity. We’re currently in the middle of our bycatch ‘season’ in the southwest and it is likely that other bycaught animals will be recorded by stranding networks in this region. Data collected through necropsies like these and by groups like the CWTMSN will help inform policy decisions and efforts to mitigate the impact of bycatch in the UK.
Many thanks to James Barnett, Rob Wells and the rest of the volunteers of the CWTMSN. Many thanks as well to Peake (GB) ltd for their help with the recovery of the bodies and for helping to facilitate the necropsies.
Images credit Rob Wells/CWTMSN
The CSIP are on route to the East Riding of Yorkshire to retrieve the body of a harbour porpoise (SW2018/18), which was reported live stranded near Bridlington on Sunday 14th January. Members of British Divers Marine Life Rescue attended and found that part of the tail fluke was missing. The injuries are consistent with terrestrial predation, most probably made by a canid and were likely to have occurred whilst the animal was live stranded. As a result of the injuries, the harbour porpoise was euthanized on welfare grounds. The body will be transported back to ZSL for post-mortem examination and results will be posted.
Many thanks to our colleagues in BDMLR, particularly Rocky Clark and Julia Cable.
Images credit BDMLR
Update on the necropsy findings of the white-beaked dolphin found live stranded last week (SW2018/2). To recap the case history recorded by British Divers Marine Life Rescue colleagues, the dolphin live stranded on the south coast of the Isle of Wight on Thursday 4th January. It was initially refloated by members of public, but subsequently restranded nearby, during which it was observed butting against a harbour wall. Following veterinary assessment, the decision was taken t...o euthanize the dolphin on welfare grounds, due to the evidently compromised condition of the dolphin.
Following retrieval, the necropsy was carried out by a CSIP team from ZSL on Monday. We found that it was a 2.48m adult female in moderate nutritional condition. There were multiple sets of four parallel, curvilinear cuts on either side of the thoracic region. These were interpreted as being potentially consistent with recent grey seal interaction (claw marks), but were not considered to be a significant causal factor in the animals death. A number of teeth were missing from two dental arcades and some of the remaining teeth were relatively worn. Extensive thymic cysts and large numbers of scars (corpora albicans) on the ovaries were also noted and these were all considered to be potentially consistent with an aged individual. Light parasitic burdens were present in all three stomachs and there was no evidence of recent feeding. Along with a few bone fragments and otoliths (fish ear bones), a single small piece of green multifilament rope was also present in the first stomach. This ingestion of marine debris was considered to be an incidental finding and was not a significant factor in the dolphins live stranding.
Subsequent bacteriology culture found pure growth of the bacteria Gemella sp. in all sampled sites, including the brain. This evidence of systemic infection is considered to be the most significant factor in the animals live stranding and would almost certainly explain the abnormal behaviour observed during the stranding event. Histopathology and other tests are pending, but these are unlikely to affect the cause of death, which has been given as ‘generalised bacterial infection (Gemella sp.)’.
This animal was probably a member of the small population resident within the Lyme Bay region, which is thought to number between 100-200 individuals. As mentioned in the previous post, this population represents the southern most limit of the range of this species in the UK. Photos of the dorsal fin and surrounding ‘saddle’ area have been forwarded to colleagues, to see if they can determine a match within their photo ID catalogues.
Many thanks to Tracy Dove, Matt Twitchett and the rest of the staff of the Isle of Wight Zoo for their considerable help with the recovery of the body and also to our colleagues at BDMLR, particularly Stephan Voigt and Julia Cable.
Images credit CSIP-ZSL
A CSIP team from ZSL and Marine Environmental Monitoring are travelling to Bangor to carry out a demonstration necropsy on a stranded harbour porpoise for a public audience at Bangor University. The event has been coordinated by the North Wales Mammal Group, with support from the North Wales Wildlife Trust and Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales. Tickets are sold out, but results of the examination will be posted after the event.
Stranded harbour porpoise image credit Charlie Lindenbaum, Natural Resources Wales.