DAO 108:61-70 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02700

Gastrointestinal parasites of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the extreme southwestern Atlantic, with notes on diet composition

María Alejandra Romero1,2,3,*, Mercedes Fernández4, Silvana L. Dans5, Néstor A. García5, Raúl González1,2,3, Enrique A. Crespo

1Instituto de Biología Marina y Pesquera Almirante Storni (IBMPAS), Güemes 1030, 8520 San Antonio Oeste, Río Negro, Argentina
2CONICET, Rivadavia 1917, 1033 Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
3Escuela Superior de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, San Martín 247, 8520 San Antonio Oeste, Río Negro, Argentina
4Marine Zoology Unit, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, PO Box 22085, 46071 Valencia, Spain
5Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT/CONICET), Bvd. Brown 2915, 9120 Puerto Madryn, Argentina
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We surveyed the gastrointestinal tracts of 6 bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from Patagonia to check for helminth parasites and characterize dolphin diet. All dolphins harbored parasites (6477 helminths). We recorded 7 species, including nematodes Anisakis simplex s.l., Pseudoterranova decipiens, acanthocephalans Corynosoma cetaceum, C. australe, and digeneans Braunina cordiformis, Pholeter gastrophilus and Synthesium tursionis. Among the gastric helminths, the most prevalent species were C. cetaceum and A. simplex while C. australe and S. tursionis inhabited the intestine at low prevalence. This is the first report of C. australe and P. decipiens in bottlenose dolphins. Regarding diet, 5 stomachs contained food remains (consisting of 103 prey items). The most important prey species were Geotria australis and Stromateus brasiliensis, but their role in parasite transmission is unclear. At the community level, the gastrointestinal parasite community of T. truncatus was depauperate and strongly overlapped the community described for pelagic dolphins inhabiting Patagonia, suggesting a strong local influence in shaping helminth communities. Nevertheless, these observations are at odds with the notion that oceanic cetaceans have comparatively poorer helminth fauna than neritic species such as bottlenose dolphins, due to the lower likelihood of parasite exchange.


KEY WORDS: Tursiops truncatus · Corynosoma · Anisakis · Pseudoterranova · Braunina · Pholeter · Synthesium · Patagonia · Argentina · Southwestern Atlantic


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Cite this article as: Romero MA, Fernández M, Dans SL, García NA, González R, Crespo EA (2014) Gastrointestinal parasites of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from the extreme southwestern Atlantic, with notes on diet composition. Dis Aquat Org 108:61-70. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02700

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