Headless mystery creature washed up on Lagos beach
Photo: JAMES CLEGG

Headless mystery creature washed up on Lagos beach

Zoomarine marine biologist helps identify dead specimen 

Reader James Clegg emailed us these images of a headless creature he found recently at the bottom of the cliffs between Porto de Mós (Lagos) and Luz.

James said: “I found a headless fish/mammal on the beach a couple of days ago. I thought it was a sea-lion, but its belly looks like a whale. It’s about 1.5 metres long.”

Headless mystery creature washed up on Lagos beach
Photo: JAMES CLEGG

To help us identify the mystery animal, the Resident contacted Zoomarine’s marine biologist Élio A. Vicente: “It is a dolphin (either ‘common’ or ‘striped’ – Delphinus delphis or Stenella coeruleoalba, respectively) in advanced decomposition.

“In order to establish the exact species, genetic analysis or examination of the cleft palate (fenda palatina) would be necessary. Through the photos, we believe it is a female, but we cannot confirm this. If measurements are correct, it is a young adult or adult.

Headless mystery creature washed up on Lagos beach
Photo: JAMES CLEGG

“The boneless (tail) fluke is still noticeable. The lack of a right pectoral flipper and head may indicate that the specimen got stuck (either alive or dead) in fishing nets, hence the likely cut to free it from said nets.”