Nine bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) calves that stranded in Virginia in 1996 and 1997 died of severe blunt-force trauma. Injuries were concentrated on the head and chest and multiple rib fractures, lung lacerations, and soft tissue contusions were prominent. Skeletal and/or soft tissue trauma occurred bilaterally in all of the calves. One had a bite wound across the left mandible that exhibited deep punctures consistent with the tooth placement in an adult bottlenose dolphin. The lesions were not compatible with predation, boat strike, fisheries interactions, rough-surf injury, or blast injury. However, they were similar to traumatic injuries described in stranded bottlenose dolphin calves and harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in Great Britain attributed to violent dolphin interactions. The evidence suggests that violent dolphin behavior was the cause of the trauma in the nine calves reported here and that infanticide occurs in bottlenose dolphins of the western North Atlantic.
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Vol. 38 • No. 3