Scientists to investigate Loch Aline dolphin death

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Scientists at the University of Glasgow are hoping they can shed some light on the causes surrounding the death of a dolphin that became stranded in Loch Aline on Friday.

It was earlier that day that Annabel Lawrence, director of the Community Association of Lochs and Sounds (CAOLAS), was alerted by Drimnin Estate that a common dolphin had live stranded in the shallow waters at the head of Loch Aline on Morvern.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme were contacted. Sadly, however, the dolphin, which was showing signs of being very poorly, subsequently died later that same evening.

On Saturday morning, Ms Lawrence along with a few volunteers met with Texa Sim, the CAOLAS Marine Community Officer, who is also a cetacean ecologist, to assess the animal and collect it for necropsy.

Texa Sim, CAOLAS Marine Community Officer, who is also a cetacean ecologist, assesses the dead dolphin on Friday. Photograph: Annabel Lawrence/CAOLAS. NO F03 dolphin 02
Texa Sim, CAOLAS Marine Community Officer, who is also a cetacean ecologist, assesses the dead dolphin on Friday. Photograph: Annabel Lawrence/CAOLAS.

The dolphin turned out to be a large adult male, showing very little external damage, with worn teeth indicating that it may have been an older individual.

Posting about the standing, CAOLS stated: ‘While sad, a stranding like this is a very valuable scientific opportunity, so Texa took the dolphin down to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme headquarters at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, where it will be necropsied.

‘Hopefully this will shed light on why this beautiful animal died, and tell us more about its life when it was alive.’

Ms Sim, who has been invited to attended the necropsy when it takes place in Glasgow, told the Lochaber Times: ‘Short-beaked common dolphins [Delphinus delphis] are typically seen in summertime around the Scottish west coast, often in large groups.

‘They are usually the second most common species to strand in Scotland, with the harbour porpoise being the most common.

‘The species is often seen in the Sound of Mull and surrounding areas, and it is possible underlying health issues caused this older animal to swim into the shallow head-waters of Loch Aline.’