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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 106:93-102 (2013)  -  DOI:

Surgical treatment of injuries caused by fishing gear in the intracoelomic digestive tract of sea turtles

Antonio Di Bello1,*, Carmela Valastro1, Daniela Freggi2, Olimpia R. Lai1, Giuseppe Crescenzo1, Delia Franchini1

1Departments of Veterinary Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Bari University, Strada Provinciale per Casamassima km.3, 70010 Valenzano (Ba), Italy
2The World Wildlife Fund Sea Turtles Rescue Center (Freggi), Stazione Marittima, 92010 Lampedusa (Ag), Italy

ABSTRACT: We report the surgical techniques used to remove accidentally ingested hooks and branchlines localized in different parts of the digestive tract of 129 loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta, together with the characteristics and localization of lesions, and final outcome related to their severity. Hooks were removed from the cervical esophagus via the ventral surface of the neck, while the supraplastron approach was performed for hooks wedged in the intracoelomic portion of the esophagus. An approach through the left axillary region was preferred for fishhooks in the stomach, while hooks and long branchlines in the intestine or pyloric area were removed by approaching the coelomic cavity through the right or left prefemoral fossa. The ingestion of fishhooks, and/or longlines, often induces severe injuries in the digestive tract that could lead to the death of the turtles, with the extent of damage engendered by lines often more severe than that caused by hooks, leading to strangulation, intussusception, and tears that require resection of long tracts of intestine. Spontaneous expulsion of hooks, even where possible, involves long waiting times, with the possible impairment of the turtle’s clinical condition, and should be avoided when the line is evident or suspected. The development of diversified surgical techniques enabled us to approach the coelomic cavity with minimally invasive and easy-to-perform methods, and survival rates proved very satisfactory.

KEY WORDS: Injuries · Fishing line · Digestive tract · Surgical treatment · Sea turtles

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Cite this article as: Di Bello A, Valastro C, Freggi D, Lai OR, Crescenzo G, Franchini D (2013) Surgical treatment of injuries caused by fishing gear in the intracoelomic digestive tract of sea turtles. Dis Aquat Org 106:93-102.

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