Thanks to the video of Mr. Andrej Simčić from few days ago we confirmed that our old buddy – bottlenose dolphin Košara, is still alive and is recovering. On his recording made on 21.6.2019. in the channel between Rivanj and Sestrunj we can see Košara jumping and bashing sea surface with its head. Although we can not confirm what is this behavior all about and is he maybe trying to get rid of something from his mouth, Košara has special story.

After five years part of the filament causing deep wound on the back was gone.

Košara (named after the islet where we first saw him) was firstly observed in 2010. entangled in the fishing gear filament. Filament around the body and neck, base of the pectoral fins and through the mouth was carved in the tissue. While trying to get free Košara was getting entangled more and more, while pulling and stretching caused deep cuts and horrible injuries. Constant tension and pressure  on the back, behind the blowhole, in 2013. was still so strong that it looked like it could cut the animal in half! Constant pressure on the tissue and inability to heal caused hypergranulation that looked like large wen on the back.

Filament wrapped around caused amputation of the left pectoral fin.

Strain around the base of the fins caused latter amputation of the left pectoral fin, and string throughout the mouth caused wounds and hypergranulation around the corners of the mouth, preventing normal feeding. Furthermore, filament on the tail caused cuts and amputation of large parts of the tail fin. With such heavy injuries Košara’s behavior also indicated poor condition; the animal was swimming slowly and was staying for prolonged time on the surface while making very short dives. During two years we were observing Košara always alone even when other dolphins were around.  The animal was in constant pain, and we were expecting it would die soon. But, Košara managed to survive by almost exclusively feeding around the fish farms where it was easier to catch some pray.

Filament wrapped around the pectoral fins caused injuries and hypergranulation.

During one sighting in 2015. we noticed that filament that was lodged and wrapped around the body during last five years was partially gone. We do not know how Košara managed to get rid of it nor if there are parts that are still lodged inside the tissue (for example in the mouth as that could explain bashing with the head on the sea surface), but since that time Košara shows signs of recovery. Although still with wounds and without fins, we can see Košara in groups with other dolphins, often jumping and taking his place in dolphin society. In this latest sighting Košara was far away from fish farms confirming that he is not dependant on them any more.

Injuries and hypergranulation are visible on both pectoral fins and on both corners of the mouth!

Although Košara is an example of positive outcome, it should be stressed that dolphins often get injured during net entanglements. During previous years we saw several cases with fatal outcomes. Luckily, entanglements with fatal outcome are not usual in the Adriatic.

Interaction with fisheries and other human activities and their influence on the populations of bottlenose dolphins in the Adriatic are part of the research activities of the Blue World Institute. In case you find or observe injured or entangled dolphin on the sea, let us know on +385 51 604 666 or, through our Facebook profile or call emergency service 112 so in coordination we will try to intervene and free the animal. Also, we are stressing that it is important you should not try to disentangle the animal without professional support and help. In case of amateur actions there is a possibility that parts of the nets and ropes will stay on the animal causing troubles and leading to amputations of parts or whole fins and cause animal suffering and even death.

Filament caused amputation of the parts of tail.

So, in case you notice entangled animal call for professional help. If possible, while waiting for their arrival calm the animal and prevent its escape. Only in case you can not wait for the arrival of professionals, the animal should be freed by removing the smaller parts in pieces and by removing parts wraping up parts of the body. Only once most is removed you should free the animal from the main rope or part that is holding the animal. That way you can ensure that the animal will not escape with parts of the ropes and net still attached! Finally, take into acocunt that dolphins are wild animals weighing usually over 200 kg and that stress and pain can cause unpredictable behavior so each direct interaction presents potential of you being injured!