A very unusual striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) washed out at Nahoon Beach on Tuesday 29 January 2019. This species is normally found way offshore in deeper tropical and temperate waters. They have been spotted up the Wild Coast mixing with bottlenose and common dolphins during the annual sardine run. A necropsy was undertaken on the stranded 2.36 m male striped dolphin by museum scientist Kevin Cole to determine whether there was plastic ingestion, parasites or any abnormalities with the internal organs. As there were no signs of physical trauma or other injuries, illness may also have played a role in the animals death. These species are quite susceptible to morbillivirus and have known to starve when ill. The stomach of the animal was empty, no plastic was found and all the internal organs seemed normal. A sample of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and testes were taken for further analysis and maybe some pathology. These will be sent to Dr Greg Hofmeyr at Bayworld Museum. The skull was also removed for the marine mammal collection at Bayworld and blubber and muscle frozen for further studies.
Striped dolphins are very sociable and move in large groups, up to hundreds at a time. They have been caught as a by catch in the fisheries industry (the current incidental catch is 2000-4000 animals per annum). They feed on squid, crustaceans and fish. The body of the dolphin was buried at Nahoon and post-cranial skeletal material may be collected at a later date. AJ Corbet is thanked for alerting the museum on the early hours of Tuesday morning via Green Scorpions Head Div de Villiers.