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Keywords:

  • bottlenose dolphin;
  • Tursiops truncatus;
  • Adriatic Sea;
  • depredation;
  • gill net;
  • net ingestion;
  • larynx strangulation

Abstract

Cetacean interactions with fishing gear are reported regularly and most frequently involve incidental capture. However, limited records exist related to depredation resulting in fishing gear ingestion. Here, we present cases of depredation resulting from ingestion of gill-net parts and larynx strangulation documented for the first time in a cetacean species. The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the only resident species in the Adriatic Sea, where small-scale commercial and private fisheries use gill nets throughout the year. A total of 120 dead-stranded bottlenose dolphins found along the Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea were examined from 1990 to March 2008; 12 of them (10%) were affected by larynx strangulation with gill-net parts. The larynx of all affected animals showed at least one of the following pathological changes: edema, mucosal injury, and hypergranulation. In the majority of cases, it was a chronic condition. Larynx strangulations were found only in adult animals and appeared more often in animals with reduced ability to catch free-swimming prey.