Bossart, G. D., R. Meisner, R. Varela, M. Mazzoil, S. McCulloch, D. Kilpatrick, R. Friday, E.  Murdoch, B. Mase, and R. H. Defran.  2003.  Pathologic findings in stranded Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida.  Florida Scientist 66:226-238.


This report describes for the first time the pathologic findings associated with mortality in 17 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) which stranded in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida, between February 2001-July 2002. The cause of death could be determined in most necropsy cases, which demonstrates the importance of performing gross and microscopic necropsy examinations on freshly stranded marine mammals. Causes of death in decreasing order of frequency were infectious/inflammatory disease, cachexia, asphyxiation, degenerative central nervous system disease and traumatic injury. In cases of inflammatory/infectious disease and cachexia, multisystemic disease was common, which reflects the complex and dynamic processes associated with death. Dermatologic disease was present in nine cases. In many cases, the combined histologic pattern of skin, lymphoid and other lesions suggested a state of altered immunologic homeostasis and subsequent immunologic dysfunction. Understanding the pathologic features associated with mortality of stranded IRL dolphins is important for the future management of this species and provides an insight into the health of the IRL ecosystem as a whole.

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