DAO 127:145-150 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03194

NOTE
Brevetoxin exposure in sea turtles in south Texas (USA) during Karenia brevis red tide

Jennifer Shelby Walker1, Donna J. Shaver1,*, Brian A. Stacy2, Leanne J. Flewelling3, Margaret H. Broadwater4, Zhihong Wang

1National Park Service, Padre Island National Seashore, Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery, PO Box 181300, Corpus Christi, TX 78480, USA
2NOAA, University of Florida (duty station), 471 Mowry Road, Building 471, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
3Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 8th Avenue SE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
4NOAA, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
5JHT, Inc., under contract to NOAA, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Stressor Detection and Impacts Division, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Five green (Chelonia mydas) and 11 Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles found dead, or that died soon after stranding, on the southern Texas (USA) coast during 2 Karenia brevis blooms (October 2015, September-October 2016) were tested for exposure to brevetoxins (PbTx). Tissues (liver, kidney) and digesta (stomach and intestinal contents) were analyzed by ELISA. Three green turtles found alive during the 2015 event and 2 Kemp’s ridley turtles found alive during the 2016 event exhibited signs of PbTx exposure, including lethargy and/or convulsions of the head and neck. PbTx were detected in 1 or more tissues or digesta in all 16 stranded turtles. Detected PbTx concentrations ranged from 2 to >2000 ng g-1. Necropsy examination and results of PbTx analysis indicated that 10 of the Kemp’s ridleys and 2 of the green turtles died from brevetoxicosis via ingestion. This is the first documentation of sea turtle mortality in Texas attributed to brevetoxicosis.


KEY WORDS: Harmful algal bloom · HAB · Chelonian · Kemp’s ridley sea turtle · Lepidochelys kempii · Green sea turtle · Chelonia mydas


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Cite this article as: Walker JS, Shaver DJ, Stacy BA, Flewelling LJ, Broadwater MH, Wang Z (2018) Brevetoxin exposure in sea turtles in south Texas (USA) during Karenia brevis red tide. Dis Aquat Org 127:145-150. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03194

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