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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 145:35-50 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03600

Pathology of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in southwest England including pups in early rehabilitation

J. E. F. Barnett1,*, R. Allen2, K. Astley3, F. Whitehouse1, M. E. Wessels4

1University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
2Centre for Applied Zoology, Cornwall College Newquay, Cornwall TR7 2LZ, UK
3Institute of Zoology, London NW1 4RY, UK
4Finn Pathologists, Weybread, Norfolk IP21 5TT, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Few investigations have examined the pathology of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in southwest England, where it is the most abundant marine mammal. Here, primary pathological findings are presented from 107 post-mortem examinations of grey seals in southwest England between 2013 and 2020. Over three-quarters were pups in their first year of life; the origins of the carcasses reflected the known breeding season and breeding sites of grey seals in the region. Trauma was the most common primary pathological finding (n = 49), followed by infectious disease (n = 36). Traumatic findings included fisheries-related trauma (n = 15), other acute physical traumas (n = 15) and other chronic traumas (n = 19). Infectious disease findings included respiratory infections (n = 21) and gastrointestinal infections (n = 9). There was no difference in the primary pathological findings for seals found dead or that died or were euthanased on the day they were found compared to those dying in early rehabilitation, suggesting that it is appropriate to include findings from seals in early rehabilitation in studies of wild grey seal pathology. Seals that had not been frozen before post-mortem examination were nearly twice as likely to have a primary pathological finding of infectious disease or trauma than those that had been frozen, highlighting the need, wherever possible, to avoid freezing seals prior to post-mortem examination.


KEY WORDS: Grey seal · Pathology · Rehabilitation


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Cite this article as: Barnett JEF, Allen R, Astley K, Whitehouse F, Wessels ME (2021) Pathology of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in southwest England including pups in early rehabilitation. Dis Aquat Org 145:35-50. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03600

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