Abstract: A mature, 2.7-m male bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) with a fish tail protruding from its mouth was found dead on the northern Gulf of Mexico coast near Galveston, Texas, on 26 February 1995. Necropsy revealed a large and beheaded sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) directly impacting the base of the laryngeal goosebeak. The larynx was severely dislocated rostroventrally into the oral cavity, which led to death by asphyxiation. An isolated sheepshead head was recovered from the caudal thoracic esophagus. Feeding strategies in dolphins of beheading fish and the sometimes fatal ingestion of inappropriately large and/or spiny prey are discussed.

Key Words: BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN; TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS; ASPHYXIATION; LARYNGEAL DISPLACEMENT; STRANDING; MORTALITY; FEEDING STRATEGIES

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.31.4.2005.447

Page Numbers: 447 - 452

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