Short Notes

Rare records of hypo- and hyper-pigmented individuals in two delphinid species off Madeira island


Sightings of anomalously all-white (leucistic) or all-black (melanistic) individuals are rare in nature, with information on hypo- and hyper-pigmented short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) being scarce in the literature. This study describes seven sightings of anomalously pigmented D. delphis and S. frontalis recorded off Madeira Island between 2014 and 2016. This includes: i) four records of a dark-pigmented D. delphis that lacked the distinctive hourglass colour (yellow) pattern, ii) two records of an all-white D. delphis, and iii) one record of an all-white S. frontalis. All records consisted of full-sized animals and were observed displaying the same behaviour as the other individuals in the same group, with no other delphinid species in the vicinities. The all-white individuals had a normal (dark) eye colouration, which indicated that the animals were not true albinos, but rather leucistic individuals. Despite inherent limitations of this condition, the adults observed in this study confirmed the potential longevity of these anomalously pigmented individuals in the wild. Similar reports as of those described here may provide a framework to better understand these animals. This study further highlights the value of sharing photographs via social media forums (e.g. Facebook).


anomalous pigmentation; Delphinus delphis; leucism; melanism; Stenella frontalis

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Copyright (c) 2017 Filipe Alves, Luís Dias, Cátia Nicolau, Rita Ferreira, Dinarte Sousa, Carlos Moura, Claudia Gomes, Ana Dinis

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Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy ISSN 1825-5272 (electronic version) 0394-1914 (printed version) Impact Factor (2016) 1.479, CiteScore (2016) 3.51.
Published by Associazione Teriologica Italiana
Creative Commons LicenseWorks published in Hystrix are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.