Esophageal and pharyngeal obstruction are commonly reported in marine mammals, but asphyxiation from blowhole and nasal cavity obstruction has been reported only rarely: in two long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), several harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), and one common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). We describe two cases of blowhole obstruction and subsequent asphyxiation in bottlenose dolphins caused by eels. A whip eel (Bascanichthys scuticaris) was found obstructing the blowhole of a deceased dolphin from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, US (2011) and a shrimp eel (Ophichthus gomesii) was found obstructing the blowhole of a deceased dolphin from Tampa Bay, Florida (2020). Normally, the respiratory and digestive tracts of cetaceans do not communicate. Consuming large or oddly shaped prey can result in laryngeal displacement and subsequent interaction between the two systems. It is likely the eels entered the oral cavity while the dolphins were consuming or playing with prey, and laryngeal displacement enabled the eels to slither into and become stuck in the nasal passage, causing asphyxiation. These novel findings underscore the importance of continued investigation into causes of mortality in stranded marine mammals and can contribute to the knowledge of feeding ecology in bottlenose dolphins. As changing environmental conditions contribute to shifts in prey availability and abundance, mortality due to prey-related asphyxiation could become more common in odontocetes.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 57 • No. 4