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Kiska the orca

Real stories from the dark side of captivity

Since we launched our campaign, we've been talking a lot about what a dark place...
Theo's rubbish collection

WDC Dolphin Defender Theo awarded BBC Climate Champion Award

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
End captivity background

Uncovering the dark side of captivity

Last week we launched our major new campaign to reveal and uncover the dark side...
Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

On the anniversary of the massacre of 1,423 dolphins, what’s changed?

One year ago today, 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including mothers with calves and pregnant females,...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
A dolphin plays in front of the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Sharing our Spey Bay stories – tell us yours

2022 is Scotland's Year of Stories, a year in which stories inspired by, created or...
Orcas in Australia

Did orcas help rescue entangled humpback whale?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
An orca named 'Hulk' off Caithness, Scotland

My amazing week watching orcas in Scotland

Orca Watch's 10th anniversary event in the far north of Scotland was exhilarating with a...

Something fishy about dolphin’s death in Wales

Earlier this week, what appeared to be a healthy bottlenose dolphin was found stranded on a beach (perhaps aptly named Hell’s Mouth) in Wales. Teams from the Zoological Society of London’s Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) and Marine Environmental Monitoring were quickly on the scene to undertake a post-mortem to try and find out what had caused the individual to strand and die – what they found was beyond the bizarre.

Given that the dolphin appeared to be in a good nutritional state, it wasn’t surprising for the teams to find a stomach full of recently ingested fish, revealing that prior to its death, the dolphin had been feasting on some of the local fish. However what was surprising was that the stomach wasn’t the only place they found fish – an almost whole dab fish (a type of flat fish) was found lodged in the dolphin’s nasal cavity, completely blocking the airspace and therefore preventing the dolphin from breathing. 

So “death by fish”, or in technical speak, “asphyxiation by dab” has been officially noted as the cause of death for this unfortunate dolphin, not something that the investigators see very often. In fact this is only the second time (in over 11,500 strandings) that a dolphin has been documented as having died of asphyxia by ingestion.

Unfortunately, this adult male dolphin has since been identified as a member of the population of resident bottlenose dolphins found in the wider Cardigan Bay. Each and every dolphin is important and none more so when they’re from small relatively discrete populations however sometimes life and death really are stranger than fiction and if it wasn’t for him eating his food the wrong way (and perhaps not having another dolphin on hand to conduct the heimlich manoeuvre) this individual may have lived for many more years.

About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC