Bubbles in live-stranded dolphins.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Bubbles in supersaturated tissues and blood occur in beaked whales stranded near sonar exercises, and post-mortem in dolphins bycaught at depth and then hauled to the surface. To evaluate live dolphins for bubbles, liver, kidneys, eyes and blubber-muscle interface of live-stranded and capture-release dolphins were scanned with B-mode ultrasound. Gas was identified in kidneys of 21 of 22 live-stranded dolphins and in the hepatic portal vasculature of 2 of 22. Nine then died or were euthanized and bubble presence corroborated by computer tomography and necropsy, 13 were released of which all but two did not re-strand. Bubbles were not detected in 20 live wild dolphins examined during health assessments in shallow water. Off-gassing of supersaturated blood and tissues was the most probable origin for the gas bubbles. In contrast to marine mammals repeatedly diving in the wild, stranded animals are unable to recompress by diving, and thus may retain bubbles. Since the majority of beached dolphins released did not re-strand it also suggests that minor bubble formation is tolerated and will not lead to clinically significant decompression sickness.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dennison, S; Moore, MJ; Fahlman, A; Moore, K; Sharp, S; Harry, CT; Hoppe, J; Niemeyer, M; Lentell, B; Wells, RS

Published Date

  • April 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 279 / 1732

Start / End Page

  • 1396 - 1404

PubMed ID

  • 21993505

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3282370

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2954

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8452

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rspb.2011.1754


  • eng