On the 27 March 2019 @ 4pm the Dolphin Encountours Team received numerous calls from concerned locals that there was a dolphin trying to beach itself at the Ponta do Ouro Main Beach. After speaking to local business owner Candice Salvesen Eardly it was established that it was an adult Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus). With dread, both Angie Gullan and PhD student Diana Rocha made their way to the beach knowing that it was more than likely one of the catalogued local Dolphins of Ponta. When we arrived we found a crowd gathered and the dolphin erratically swimming circles in the bay. Surface bobbing indicated that the dolphin was struggling to breath and shortly thereafter he lay motionless at our feet. Borrowing a mask and snorkel Angie was able to establish that it was an adult and one of the catalogued males.
It was later discovered that the dolphin had been seen about an hour earlier and had washed up on the beach three times before being re-floated.
Cremildo, made it onto the data sheet in March 2008 and had been a regular visitor to our waters, spending most time hanging with males Nelson and Carley.
Once Cremildo's body had been pulled onto the beach we noticed he was slightly emaciated and had lacerations on his back towards his tail. His body was lifted onto an SUP and carried to a vehicle were he was then transported for storage. The following morning at sunrise Diana Rocha lead a necropsy in-which various measurements and samples were taken. Cremildo seemed to be in good health, apart from the lesions, the largest being 9cm in length and 2cm deep. Some unusual swelling was noted in the genital area and the one joint connecting the pectoral had an orange gel like substance oozing out.
He measured 2,25m in length and had a maximum girth measurement of 1,09m. He was free of parasitic infections except for something small, sampled from one of his stomachs. The stomachs were empty except for a small beak from what looks like a cuttlefish or squid. There was no plastic. His body was buried for later skeleton reconstruction.
At this stage we are unclear as to what caused the lesions. The injury is not consistent with other propeller fatalities documented around the globe, however boat strike and shark predation are being considered.
A big shout out of thanks goes to Candice, Carien and Claire for helping on the scene as well as to the SUP gentleman and the many other people who showed concern and care. It was a sad and emotional day for many people who have spent time in the company of our local Dolphins of Ponta. A sobering cord was struck as we find ourselves pondering the cause of his demise – hoping that it is a natural event as opposed to a boating event.
Cremildo is the second bottlenose dolphin to have stranded this year so far. This is the 28th stranding event that has been recorded in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve since 1997.