DAO 105:183-191 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02622

Two cases of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta 

Jose Luis Crespo1,2,*, Daniel García-Párraga1, Ignacio Giménez3, Consuelo Rubio-Guerri2, Mar Melero2, José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno2, Adolfo Marco5, Jose A. Cuesta6, María Jesús Muñoz

1Veterinary Services, Oceanogràfic, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, C/ Eduardo Primo Yúfera (Científic), 46013 Valencia, Spain
2VISAVET Center and Animal Health Department, Veterinary School, Complutense University of Madrid, Avda. Puerta del Hierro, 28040 Madrid, Spain
3Rara Avis Biotec, C/ Moratin 17, 46002 Valencia, Spain
4Animal Health Research Center, CISA-INIA, Ctra. de Algete a El Casar s/n, 28130 Valdeolmos, Madrid, Spain
5Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), C. Américo Vespucio s/n, 41092, Sevilla, Spain
6Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucia (CSIC), Avda. República Saharaui, 2, 11519 Puerto Real, Cadiz, Spain

ABSTRACT: Two juvenile (curved carapace lengths: 28 and 30 cm) loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta with precocious male external characteristics were admitted to the ARCA del Mar rescue area at the Oceanogràfic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain, in 2009 and 2010. Routine internal laparoscopic examination and subsequent histopathology confirmed the presence of apparently healthy internal female gonads in both animals. Extensive tissue biopsy and hormone induction assays were consistent with female sex. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles based on sexual external characteristics and internal laparoscopic examination. Our findings suggest that the practice of using external phenotypical characteristics as the basis for gender identification in sea turtles should be reevaluated. Future research should focus on detecting more animals with sexual defects and their possible effects on the sea turtle population.


KEY WORDS: Sex development disorder · Loggerhead turtle · Caretta caretta · Reptile · Endocrine disruptor


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Cite this article as: Crespo JL, García-Párraga D, Giménez I, Rubio-Guerri C and others (2013) Two cases of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta . Dis Aquat Org 105:183-191. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02622

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