Saturday, November 3, 2007

Belle the Bottlenose Dolphin

Belle was an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. She washed ashore on July 13, 1996. Belle was stranded, emaciated, weak, and unable to swim, with her left pectoral flipper held rigidly outward. The initial diagnosis was that of anorexia (yes), bradycardia, possible liver disease, rectal gas, and pulmonary congestion. Mote started Belle on antibiotics, ulcer medication, and fluids. She began eating on July25th. Belle was transferred to Clearwater Marine Aquarium on July 29th and began swimming shortly thereafter. It was a huge elation.
However, Belle never fully recovered. She died on December 4th of a brain infection in Clearwater. On July 18th, Belle experienced a respiratory emergency wherein her respirations climbed as high as 20/min with gas being expelled with each breath from her mouth. The condition resolved on its own. An echocardiogram was performed on July 19 indicating dilated cardiomyopathy with right ventricular hypertrophy (often secondary to chronic lung pathology in humans). Belle's cause of death was thought to be meningioencephalitis.

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