The last sighting of the common bottlenose dolphin was in Haifa Port on Friday February 2nd, at around 3:30pm.
Photographed by Yaniv Eliash
Photographed by David Rezek
24 hours later, a female common bottlenose dolphin was found dead at Poleg beach – 60 km south of Haifa Port. On Friday night the body was transferred to Michmoret for autopsy, which took place on Saturday morning and its findings are quite thrilling.
Photographed by Ori Asher
In the pictures that were taken by Amit Magal and Aviad Scheinin - One can see that the scars on the body and the notches in the edge of the dorsal fin of the carcass match those of the swimming dolphin
The dolphin turned out to be 303 cm long– the longest documented female dolphin that ever beached on the Israeli shoreline. Length at maturity for the coastal population in Israel is 250 cm and females are usually smaller than males. Most likely it belongs to the deep water morph, due to its size and coloration.
External body markings leave no doubt that it was the same individual that was sighted inside the Port.
IMMRAC president Dr. Dani Kerem before the autopsy in Michmoret – photographed by Aviad Scheinin
The most important finding was a piece of fishing net that was tightly twisted around the dolphin's modified larynx, known as the 'goose beak'. It is worth mentioning that cetaceans' upper respiratory tract is completely separated from the moth cavity and food passage to the esophagus. The protruding, unattached, cartilaginous 'goose beak' bridges the gap between the nasal passages and the trachea, tightly fitting inside the muscular lower nostril underneath the blowhole and designed to keep anything but air out of the lungs. The twisted piece of netting caused deep necrosis, although it did not perforate the trachea.
Within the trachea there was a large amount of frothy yellow-colored fluid.
The net continued into the stomach that felt quite full. Upon checking the stomachs' content at the University of Haifa next morning, a 1/2 kilogram tight ball of fishing net and hooks was found in the otherwise empty stomach.
IMMRAC chairman Aviad Scheinin shows the fishing net that was found in the dolphin's stomach
In addition a few external parasites were found on the skin and on the tongue there were two big ulcers. Teeth were worn and quite a few were missing.
Ulcers on the dolphin's tongue
Tissue samples were taken for pollutant, pathological, genetics and stable isotope analyses. The skeleton was transferred to the University for preservation.
Points for consideration:
Unfortunately, the answer to the last question is probably "no".