DAO 113:89-102 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02825

Pathological findings in wild harvested dugongs Dugong dugon of central Torres Strait, Australia

L. Woolford1,*, C. Franklin1, T. Whap2, F. Loban3, J. M. Lanyon

1School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy Campus, Roseworthy, South Australia 5371, Australia
2Mabiuag Island Council, Mabuiag Island via Thursday Island, Queensland 4875, Australia
3Torres Strait Regional Authority, PO Box 261, Thursday Island, Queensland 4875, Australia
4School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The dugong Dugong dugon is classified as Vulnerable to extinction but may be endangered in some regions. Cause of death in stranded dugongs has not been determined in a large proportion of animals examined, with investigations hindered by limited information on dugong health and diseases, and paucity of knowledge of common or endemic pathological findings. Here we describe pathological findings in harvested dugongs from the relatively pristine area of central Torres Strait, and we characterise lesions attributable to drowning. Other recorded lesions were mild and predominated by host reaction to the presence of trematodes within the gastrointestinal tracts, liver and pancreas. Ascarid worm burdens were low in comparison to dugongs from developed coastlines. Hepatocellular lipofuscin and ferritin pigmentation were commonly observed, more pronounced in livers of older animals and concurrent with periportal and bridging fibrosis. Lesions attributable to drowning included incomplete collapse of lungs, dorsal or diffuse pulmonary congestion, mild intra-alveolar haemorrhage and oedema, mild interstitial oedema and rupture of peripheral alveolar septae with acute myofibre fragmentation and degeneration. No accumulation of foam or aspiration of water or particulate matter was observed, suggesting that dugongs ‘dry drown’. Morphometric features of normal spleen are also presented. Characterisation of common pathological findings and those attributable to drowning in this species will aid in the interpretation of post mortem findings for the significant number of dugongs found deceased along urbanised coastlines.


KEY WORDS: Pathology · Sirenia · Necropsy · Drowning · Parasitology · Organs


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Cite this article as: Woolford L, Franklin C, Whap T, Loban F, Lanyon JM (2015) Pathological findings in wild harvested dugongs Dugong dugon of central Torres Strait, Australia. Dis Aquat Org 113:89-102. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02825

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