Journal of Wildlife Diseases (2000)

DOI: 10.7589/0090-3558-36.2.342


Stranded cetaceans reported from the territorial waters of Hong Kong during the period May 1993 to March 1998 were examined to establish factors that may have contributed to their death. During the current study, 28 Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphins (Sousa chinensis), 32 finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides), and four bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were necropsied. Bacteria (15 species) were isolated from nine animals. Of these bacteria, 47% were of possible fecal origin reflecting the high level of sewage contamination in Hong Kong’s waters. One finless porpoise displayed wounds caused by a shark attack, and two female finless porpoises presented prolapsed uteri. At least 10 finless porpoises showed evidence of moderate to heavy lungworm infections (Halocercus pingi), and this appears to have been a factor contributing to death in at least six animals. Evidence suggesting blunt traumatic injury (probably caused by boat collisions) was found in six cetaceans (three finless porpoises and three humpbacked dolphins). Signs of fishery-related mortality were detected in at least nine animals (six hump-backed dolphins, two finless porpoises, and one bottlenose dolphin). Of these two human-caused mortality types, pre-existing disease or bacterial infection were detected in 29% of cases. Results indicate that human factors may have played a significant role in the death of at least 15 animals (32% of hump-backed dolphins, 15% of finless porpoises, and 25% of bottlenose dolphins).