DAO 100:71-76 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02479

Post-mortem investigations on a leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea stranded along the Northern Adriatic coastline

Lisa Poppi1, Annalisa Zaccaroni2, Daniela Pasotto1, Giorgia Dotto1, Federica Marcer3, Dino Scaravelli2, Sandro Mazzariol1,*

1Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, Legnaro (PD) 35020, Italy
2Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano dell'Emilia, Bologna 40064, Italy
3Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padova, Viale dell’Università 16, Legnaro (PD) 35020, Italy
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Leatherback sea turtles Dermochelys coriacea are regularly reported in the Mediterranean Sea but rarely reach the northern Adriatic Sea. In the summer of 2009, a well-preserved carcass of an adult female of this species was found dead along the coast of Lido di Venezia. A complete necropsy was carried out, along with evaluation of levels of tissue trace elements. The the post-mortem revealed acute severe bacterial gastroenteritis caused by Photobacterium damselae ssp. piscicida, an opportunistic agent that infected an apparently debilitated animal weakened by ingested plastic debris. High levels of heavy metals (Hg, Pb, Cd and As) found in the liver and kidneys might have contributed to the animal’s demise. These findings support previous indications that marine debris is one of the major threats to marine animals, particularly for critically endangered species such as the leatherback turtle.


KEY WORDS: Leatherback turtle · Photobacterium damselae ssp.


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Cite this article as: Poppi L, Zaccaroni A, Pasotto D, Dotto G, Marcer F, Scaravelli D, Mazzariol S (2012) Post-mortem investigations on a leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea stranded along the Northern Adriatic coastline. Dis Aquat Org 100:71-76. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02479

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