DAO 58:215-221 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao058215

Excretory calcinosis: a new fatal disease of wild American lobsters Homarus americanus

Alistair D. M. Dove1,*, Carl LoBue2, Paul Bowser3, Mark Powell4

1Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, c/o Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA
2New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 205 Belle Mead Road, East Setauket, New York 11733, USA
3Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA
4School of Aquaculture, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 1-370, Launceston, Tasmania 7250, Australia

ABSTRACT: A significant number of moribund and dead lobsters Homarus americanus were reported to New York state authorities by lobster fishers in Long Island Sound (LIS) during the summer of 2002. Morbid lobsters were characterised by an orange discolouration of the abdomen, lethargy, an excess of epibionts and poor post-capture survival. On necropsy, severe extensive multifocal or diffuse mineralised granulomatous inflammation of the gills and antennal glands was the most striking pathology. In the gills, granulomas often occluded the lumen of filaments, resulting in congestion, ischemia and coagulative necrosis of gill tissues. In the antennal glands, granulomas were concentrated along the border between the coelomosac and labyrinth. No significant pathogens were recovered from diseased individuals. In prechronic individuals, however, it was evident that granulomas were focused around calcium carbonate (aragonite) crystals. This disease may result from anomalously high sea-bottom temperatures in LIS (~23°C) during the summer of 2002 and associated disruptions of the calcium chemistry of lobsters in favour of deposition of minerals in soft tissues. The ultimate cause of death of affected lobsters is probably respiratory failure due to reduced effective surface area of the gills, exacerbated by hypermetabolic temperatures and an abundance of epibionts.

KEY WORDS: Lobster · Homarus · Granuloma · Calcium · Aragonite · Calculus · Calcinosis · Temperature

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