Bottlenose dolphin with numerous skin lesions at San Simeon Pier in California | Photo: Alan Schmierer, License: CC0 1.0

Bottlenose dolphins with “tattoos”

Published on the 28.04.2022. | By: Susanne Gugeler

Most bottlenose dolphins suffer from the poxvirus, as certain skin alterations show. The article discusses this in light of a current study conducted in Galicia.

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Note: Thanks to dolphin husbandry in zoos, aquariums, and dolphinariums, scientists have been able to study the virus closely, although the visual signs here are rarely as obvious as they are in the wild. Stress and environmental conditions are a contributing factor, and since the conditions under human care are much better than in the wild (i.e. water quality) and harmful stress is kept away from the animals, these “tattoos” are rarely found the same way in dolphinaria. The exact cause remains unknown, however, the virus is not harmful to dolphins under human care. They cope well with it – the only effect being these “optical flaws”, as some perceive it. The virus itself is part of dolphin life and is not severe.

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