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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 136:175-182 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03403

Fibropapillomatosis prevalence and distribution in green turtles Chelonia mydas in Texas (USA)

Donna J. Shaver*, J. Shelby Walker, Thomas F. Backof

National Park Service, Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi, TX 78480, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Fibropapillomatosis (FP) is a neoplastic disease that can result in debilitating tumors in sea turtles. Initially identified in Florida, USA in 1937, it has since been detected in green turtle Chelonia mydas populations globally. FP was first identified and confirmed in Texas, USA in 2010. No FP tumors were documented in Texas prior to that year, though many green turtles were encountered and examined using standardized procedures since 1980. The present study was undertaken to identify temporal and spatial trends of FP prevalence in Texas since 2010. From 2010 through 2018, 1919 stranded or incidentally captured green turtles were documented with FP in Texas. FP prevalence was significantly correlated with year, hypothermic stunning, geographic region, and turtle size, as determined by logistic regression. FP was documented in <4.0% of the green turtles examined in Texas from 2010 to 2015, increasing to 21.6% in 2016, 27.3% in 2017, and 35.2% in 2018. More than twice as many hypothermic stunned green sea turtles had FP tumors as compared to those that were not hypothermic stunned. In Texas, FP was most prevalent in south Texas, particularly in the Laguna Madre, and associated channels. FP was more prevalent in turtles with straight carapace lengths 40.0-69.9 cm. The impact of this disease on green turtle population recovery in Texas is not yet apparent.


KEY WORDS: Sea turtles · Green sea turtles · Chelonia mydas · Fibropapillomatosis · Texas


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Cite this article as: Shaver DJ, Walker JS, Backof TF (2019) Fibropapillomatosis prevalence and distribution in green turtles Chelonia mydas in Texas (USA). Dis Aquat Org 136:175-182. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03403

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