general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2020 • Vol. 19 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfSavenko, O. 2020. The first record of a piebald common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in offshore waters of the north-western Black Sea. Theriologia Ukrainica, 19: 103-107.


The first record of a piebald common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in offshore waters of the north-western Black Sea


Oksana Savenko


National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine)
Ukrainian Scientific Center of Ecology of the Sea (Odesa, Ukraine)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2020. Vol. 19: 103-107.




English, with Ukrainian summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Piebaldism is one of three types of hypopigmentation of animals, when some areas on the skin have no pigments. Anomalously white cetaceans are rare, although they have been reported in more than 20 different cetacean species, including the common bottlenose dolphin, which in the Black Sea is recognized as an endangered endemic subspecies — the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ponticus Barabash-Nikiforov, 1940). Its main habitat in the north-western Black Sea region is the coastal waters, however, these dolphins also occur offshore. Thirty cases of anomalously white bottlenose dolphins have been reported from the Black Sea, which were unevenly distributed, and only a few sightings have been reported from the north-western Black Sea. Cetacean observations were conducted in the Ukrainian part of the north-western Black Sea waters in April 2017, onboard the research vessel "Auguste Piccard". All encountered cetaceans were photographed, and individual distinctiveness of dorsal fin images was used for their photo-identification. On 13 April 2017, four groups of up to four individuals of bottlenose dolphins were encountered in the same area at a distance of 61 km south of Odesa (34 km from the nearest coast). The depth at the observation site was about 20 m. The initially observed type of dolphins’ behavior was feeding. However, two groups changed their behavior and followed the vessel by 5–6 individuals for approximately 18 minutes. The joint group consisted of adults and one juvenile individual. Among the adults, there was one piebald specimen with white patches on its dorsal fin, peduncle, and tail fluke. The piebald dolphin was photographed and photo-identified. Our research has shown that piebald Black sea bottlenose dolphins occur not only in the coastal waters, but also in offshore waters of the north-western Black Sea. However, the frequency of such hypopigmentation in local populations remains unknown. Further intensive photo-identification and genetic sampling of local stocks of the Black Sea bottlenose dolphins are necessary for the assessment of their population genetic structure and its divergence.


Tursiops truncatus ponticus, piebaldism, hypopigmentation, Cetacea, north-western Black Sea.



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