DAO 89:87-95 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02178

Relationship between fibropapillomatosis and environmental quality: a case study with Chelonia mydas off Brazil

Robson Guimarães dos Santos1,*, Agnaldo Silva Martins1, Evelise Torezani2, Cecília Baptistotte2, Julyana da Nóbrega Farias3, Paulo Antunes Horta3, Thierry M. Work4, George H. Balazs5

1Departamento de Oceanografia e Ecologia, CCHN, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, 29075-910, Vitória, ES, Brasil
2Projeto TAMAR-ICMBio, Escritório Regional de Vitória, 29040-715, Vitória, ES, Brasil
3Departamento de Botânica, CCB, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, 88010-970, Florianópolis, SC, Brasil
4US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Honolulu Field Station, PO Box 50167, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850, USA
5NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 2570 Dole St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: We documented the presence of fibropapillomatosis (FP), a debilitating tumor-forming disease, in marine turtles in Espírito Santo Bay (Brazil) from March 2007 to April 2008, and assessed the value of a specific environmental index for predicting the prevalence of FP. Turtles were captured monthly with entanglement nets and scored for presence and severity of FP. For the assessment of habitat quality, we used the ecological evaluation index (EEI) based on benthic macrophytes. The FP-free control area was classified as good quality (EEI = 8) and the study area, with high FP prevalence, was classified as bad quality (EEI = 2). Prevalence of FP in the study area was 58.3% with an average of 40 tumors per individual, and prevalence varied positively with curved carapace length (CCL). No FP was seen in the control area. The number of turtles heavily afflicted (tumor score category 3) was 10 times larger than those lightly affected (tumor score category 1). Most tumors were found on or near the front and rear flippers; no oral tumors or internal tumors were found. At recapture, 41% of formerly tumor-free turtles revealed FP, often increasing in severity with time, and very few turtles showed signs of disease regression. From the results of this study we concluded that FP is particularly severe in Espírito Santo Bay. Future studies should focus on evaluating how widespread FP is in Brazil, whether prevalence is increasing or decreasing, and elucidating the pathology and pathogenesis of FP in sea turtles in Brazil. 


KEY WORDS: Fibropapillomatosis · Environmental quality · Chelonia mydas · Green turtle · Ecological index · Brazil


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Cite this article as: Santos RG, Martins AS, Torezani E, Baptistotte C and others (2010) Relationship between fibropapillomatosis and environmental quality: a case study with Chelonia mydas off Brazil. Dis Aquat Org 89:87-95. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao02178

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