24
Apr
14

Cetacean Fingerprints

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The skin of cetaceans is surprisingly sensitive and easily marked. A scrape or a rake here, a brush with a predator there and a mark will be left forever. Many of the toothed dolphins and whales feed on squid. Squid can  also leave marks with their fearsome beak (mouthparts) or with its suckers which can attach ‘limpet-like’ to the head of a dolphin.

The sensitivity of cetacean skin is perhaps best exemplified by Risso’s Dolphins. Here’s a photo of an adult we saw off California last month showing the hieroglyphic like markings amassed over time which ultimately can be used as an aid to  the identification of individuals – like cetacean fingerprints. Click the photo to enlarge the detail.

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2014 03 04 Risso's Dolphin Monterey Bay California_Z5A2817

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