Marine Mammal Science (2017)

DOI: 10.1111/mms.12394


The effects of tagging on small cetaceans are difficult to assess due to logistical difficulties in recapturing the whales. In this study two narwhals, Monodon monoceros, and five harbor porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, were recaptured between 297 and 767 days after instrumentation with satellite transmitters. The transmitters were mounted by pins that were pushed through the fins of the porpoises or the backs of the narwhals. Overall body condition seemed unaffected by the instrumentations. Macroscopical examination revealed that umbilicalization of the tissue surrounding the pins was almost complete. On one of the narwhals the reepithelialization created a closed tunnel where the pins were isolated from the subdermal tissue, however the reepithelialization was incomplete around the middle of the pin and a low-grade inflammation increased with decreasing thickness of epidermis. The inflammation consisted of mononuclear cells, mainly lymphocytes. With increasing inflammation the number of neutrophils and macrophages increased. In the lymphoid follicular hyperplasia macrophages and a few neutrophils were found, in one case accompanied by Splendore-Hoeppli material with radiating eosinophilic clubs and Gram-positive cocci. Immunohistochemical staining of the cocci for Staphylococcus aureus was positive. The observations from the recaptured cetaceans suggest that the instrumentations caused only temporary and low-grade inflammatory responses.