WARNING: Graphic Images Below
GRUESOME pictures show how a porpoise’s shattered ribs were forced into its lungs – by an attacking dolphin.
The body of the adult male porpoise was washed up on a Scottish beach on Monday.
There was little visible damage to the body of the creature apart from numerous “rake” marks.
An autopsy quickly established that the animal had suffered catastrophic internal injuries as a result of being attacked by a bottlenose dolphin.
Experts from the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme carried out the autopsy on the porpoise, found on Rosemarkie beach, Fortrose, in the highlands.
Although the body was intact, and without obvious gaping wounds, investigators found 15 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.
The spacing of the “rake” marks on the exterior of the body – at 10mm – pointed to the culprit. Scientists decided they were consistent with the “interdental spacing” of the teeth of a bottlenose dolphin.
Apart from these traumatic injuries, the 156cm long porpoise, which weighed 55kg, was found by the organisation to be healthy, with thick blubber reserves and had recently eaten.
Mariel ten Doeschate of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme said: “This is one of the major causes of death that we see but this is partly because these interactions happen close to the shore so we are more likely to be aware of them.”
The Strandings Coordinator for SMASS, Nick Davison, said: “They don’t eat them. They’re highly intelligent animals. It’s like a cat playing with a mouse.”
In 2016, a dolphin was seen killing a porpoise by flipping it into the air in Cornwall.
In 2013, Alan Airey from the charity Sea Watch Foundation witnessed what appeared to be an organised attack on a porpoise by a group of around eight bottlenose dolphins near Lossiemouth.