A Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphin found dead on a beach on the Lleyn Peninsular ‘died of asphyxiation’.
And the animal, known as Monty, was one of those photographed and identified by researchers at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) at New Quay. CBMWC’s science officer Sarah Perry was able to match marks on the animal’s dorsal fin to images in their Photo ID catalogue. “We know that Monty spent time in the southern part of Cardigan Bay in the summer and autumn of 2011”, said Sarah.
But it would appear that when Monty ventured further north he met an unfortunate end. When experts carried out a post mortem at the scene, at Hell’s Mouth, they found that his airways had been blocked by a small fish, a dab, in a freak accident, starving him of oxygen.
Rod Penrose, Strandings Co-ordinator for Wales who helped carry out the post mortem said the animal, an old male, was in generally good condition. “Its stomach was crammed full of fish, and I don’t think there would have been room for any more”, he commented. “So when it swallowed this last fish, it must have been pushed back rolled into a cigar shape, and unusually then lodged firmly in the nasal passages. “I’ve heard of this happening before but have never seen it.
Rod Penrose had praise for the help his organisation had received from CBMWC. “The fact that this animal has been identified as one of the resident Cardigan Bay dolphins means that we can possibly extrapolate our findings to tell us about the health of this important population”, he said.
But according to CBMWC’s Sarah Perry, the scientific work done by the organisation, much of it carried out by volunteers, could be under threat through lack of funds.
“Sharing information with organisations such as Rod’s contributes to our understanding of the way the dolphins use the area and the general health and well-being of the population”, she said. “It also gives us details about individuals – for example we know from two photographs taken of Monty four months apart that he was involved in a fight at that time, because the second photo shows teeth marks on his fin that weren’t there in the first. These marks were a key feature we used to identify Monty.”