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Fatal Whale Attack Reveals The ‘Dark Side’ Of Dolphins

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

3314 Fatal Whale Attack Reveals The ‘Dark Side’ Of Dolphins
A pod of pilot whales, taken off the east Greenland coast. Captain Smurf/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Marine wildlife experts believe that a group of dolphins attacked a young pilot whale off the coast of Scotland.

Vets were forced to put down the young whale, which was covered in bite marks on its body, flippers and dorsal fin. The critically injured whale was found at Dunvegan, on the Isle of Sky, on Tuesday, October 27. 

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The Scottish Marine Animals Stranding Scheme and Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) have said they believe bottlenose dolphins were the culprits behind the attack. However, they’re awaiting results from the whale’s post-mortem examination to make a full report. 

Speaking to BBC News Charlie Phillips, a Whale and Dolphin Conservation field officer, said it's hard to identify whether the injuries were caused through playful curiosity or an act of aggression. He went on to say the spacing between the tooth marks on the whale had helped experts identify the species. 

Phillips added, "Dolphins and whales do interact in the marine environment and this is part and parcel of their natural behaviour.

"Dolphins are wonderful creatures, but people should remember that they are not these fluffy cartoon characters, they have a dark side too."

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Dr Conor Ryan, the HWDT's sightings and strandings officer, also told the BBC: "If indeed bottlenose dolphins were to blame, this is only the second such case that we are aware of in the U.K. Pilot whales often strand dead and occasionally alive on our coasts, but rarely with these types of injuries."

Scotland is one of the most northerly populations of bottlenose dolphins in the world. Its coast also host a wide variety marine mammals, ranging from bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and even orcas (Orcinus orca)

Main image credit: Captain Smurf/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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natureNature
  • tag
  • dolphins,

  • whales,

  • marine mammals,

  • bottlenose dolphins,

  • nature,

  • Scotland

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