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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 115:103-110 (2015)  -  DOI:

Causes of mortality in green turtles from Hawaii and the insular Pacific exclusive of fibropapillomatosis

Thierry M. Work1,*, George H. Balazs2, Tammy M. Summers3, Jessy R. Hapdei3, Alden P. Tagarino4

1US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Honolulu Field Station, PO Box 50167, Honolulu, HI 96850, USA
2NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, 1845 Wasp Boulevard, Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
3Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Department of Land & Natural Resources, Sea Turtle Program, Saipan, MP 96950, USA
4American Samoa Government, Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, Wildlife Division, PO Box 3730, Pago Pago, AS 96799, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Fibropapillomatosis (FP) comprises a majority of green turtle stranding in Hawaii; however, green turtles in the Pacific are also susceptible to non-FP related causes of death. We present here necropsy findings from 230 free-ranging green turtles originating from Hawaii, the Mariana archipelago, Palmyra Atoll, American Samoa, and Johnston Atoll that died from non-FP related causes. Most turtles died from fishing-induced or boat strike trauma followed by infectious/inflammatory diseases, nutritional problems (mainly cachexia), and an array of physiologic problems. Infectious/inflammatory problems included bacterial diseases of the lungs, eyes, liver or intestines, spirorchid fluke infection, or polyarthritis of unknown origin. Likelihood of a successful diagnosis of cause of death was a function of post-mortem decomposition. Fibropapillomatosis was not seen in turtles submitted from outside Hawaii. The preponderance of anthropogenic causes of mortality offers some management opportunities to mitigate causes of death in these animals by, for example, implementing measures to decrease boating and fishing interactions.

KEY WORDS: Green turtle · Chelonia mydas · Mortality · Pathology · Trauma · Infectious disease · Nutrition · Pacific

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Cite this article as: Work TM, Balazs GH, Summers TM, Hapdei JR, Tagarino AP (2015) Causes of mortality in green turtles from Hawaii and the insular Pacific exclusive of fibropapillomatosis. Dis Aquat Org 115:103-110.

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