Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and The Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, TX, USA
On Wednesday, September 16, 1998, the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN) rescued a juvenile male bottlenose dolphin from a beach
near Port Aransas, TX. The dolphin (PA526), estimated to be 18 months old (weighed 72.3 kg and measured 189 cm in length), may have been separated from its mother
during Tropical Storm Frances, which occurred 10 days earlier. PA526 was emaciated, weak, and suffering from multiple shark bites. One bite was along the lead
edge of the dorsal fin and a second bite removed approximately 8-12 cm of the top of the dorsal fin. The third bite, measured 16 cm x 12 cm, was posterior to the
dorsal fin along the left lateral side. The outer blubber layer was missing and underlying muscle damage occurred on the lateral wound. No visible bone damage was
observed. Over the course of rehabilitation, PA526 was placed on several antibiotics to promote wound healing and to hinder development of pneumonia. These
antibiotics included Baytril (Sept. 17-23), Clavamox, Nystatin and Amakacin (Sept. 23-Oct 20), and Tribrissen and Itraconazole (Oct. 20-Dec 19). During this time,
PA526 was also receiving vitamin B-complex, multi-vitamins, and folic acid with an average food intake of 4-5 kg of herring per day.
On September 20, a local veterinarian examined PA526 and some dead tissue was trimmed away from the lateral wound to reveal fresh tissue just
below the surface. Aside from the initial examination and cleaning of the wound, no further topical antibiotics or disinfectants were used throughout the
rehabilitation. It was also noted that the flap of skin, which originally covered 70% of the wound, retracted away revealing underlying necrotic tissue. The
lateral wound showed signs of redermalization around the outer margins by September 28. The wound reduced 25% in overall size by October 5, 50% by October 20, and
90% by November 9. Finally, by November 17, two months after stranding, the lateral wound had totally healed with no exposed tissue remaining.
Within 12 days of stranding, the lead edge of the dorsal fin and top of the dorsal fin showed signs of redermalization around the outer
margins of the wound. By October 20, the top of the dorsal fin completely healed, and by October 26, the lead edge of the dorsal fin had healed, with only a small
piece of necrotic tissue remaining.