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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 99:227-236 (2012)  -  DOI:

Gastrointestinal helminth community of loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Adriatic Sea

Romana Gračan1, Moira Buršić2, Ivona Mladineo3, Mladen Kučinić1, Bojan Lazar1,4,5,*, Gordana Lacković1

1Division of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
2Center for Marine Research, Ruðer Bošković Institute, 52210 Rovinj, Croatia
3Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, 21000 Split, Croatia
4Institute for Biodiversity Studies, Science and Research Centre, University of Primorska, Garibaldijeva 1, 6000 Koper, Slovenia
5Department of Biodiversity, Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies, University of Primorska, Glagoljaška 8, 6000 Koper, Slovenia
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: We analysed the intestinal helminth community of 70 loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta with a curved carapace length ranging from 25 to 85.4 cm, recovered dead in neritic foraging habitats in the Adriatic Sea in 1995 to 2004. The overall prevalence of infection was high (70.0%), with a mean abundance of 36.8 helminth parasites per turtle. Helminth fauna comprised 5 trematodes (Calycodes anthos, Enodiotrema megachondrus, Orchidasma amphiorchis, Pachypsolus irroratus, Rhytidodes gelatinosus) and 3 nematodes (Sulcascaris sulcata, Anisakis spp., Hysterothylacium sp.), with 6 taxa specific for marine turtles. In terms of infection intensity and parasite abundance, O. amphiorchis was the dominant species (mean intensity: 49.8; mean abundance: 12.8), followed by R. gelatinosus (30.5 and 8.3, respectively) and P. irroratus (23.5 and 7.0, respectively), while larval Anisakis spp. exhibited the highest prevalence (34.3%). The intensity of helminth infection ranged from 1 to 302 (mean: 52.6 ± 69.1) and was not correlated with the size of turtles; this relationship held for all species, except R. gelatinosus (rS = 0.556, p < 0.05). In comparison to other marine habitats, the helminth community of Adriatic loggerheads is characterised by higher species diversity (Shannon-Wiener H’ = 1.58) and evenness (E = 0.76), and lower dominance values (Berger-Parker d = 0.35), which can be attributed to the life history and feeding ecology of sea turtles in recruited neritic grounds and the diversity of their benthic prey.

KEY WORDS: Helminth parasites · Sea turtles · Trematodes · Nematodes · Diversity · Population health · Mediterranean

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Cite this article as: Gračan R, Buršić M, Mladineo I, Kučinić M, Lazar B, Lacković G (2012) Gastrointestinal helminth community of loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Adriatic Sea. Dis Aquat Org 99:227-236.

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