It is common knowledge that spinner dolphins’ main predators have to be searched among pelagic sharks. However, for the first time we have observed what looks like the result of an unsuccessful attack.
Since the beginning of our projects in 2010 we did observe only twice individuals carrying major scars and wounds possibly related to shark attack attempts: the first encounter occurred in the summer 2010 when we spotted and documented a pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) with a rounded fresh laceration on its side.
The second one has just happened a few days ago in Samadai, large scars displayed by one of the resident spinner dolphins (named SL0010 and known since January 2006): the image below shows the characteristics of the injury which goes from the tip of the dorsal fin all the way down to the genital area, possibly looking like the result of a failed attack. Dr. Mazzariol is helping us understand more about this scarring pattern which would seem to be consistent with a bump and bite attack, however the margins and the angle of the abrasions are somehow unusual (it feels like living in a CSI episode..)
We have been told that the animal has been spotted by dive guides, park rangers and tourists in the last weeks when the wound was still fresh and recent. At the moment it looks like on the road to recovery, however we cannot say that the animal has recovered yet: we noticed that its swimming ability was still somehow altered and its movement impaired. We call upon the community in Marsa Alam to help us monitor the situation: if you have any images of this dolphin or you see it during your excursions in Marsa Alam waters, please send us pictures and report the sighting to us.