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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Causes of cetacean stranding and death on the Catalonian coast (Western Mediterranean Sea) in the period 2012-2019

    María Cuvertoret-Sanz, Carlos López-Figueroa, Alicia O’Byrne, Albert Canturri, Bernat Martí-Garcia, Ester Pintado, Lola Pérez, Llilianne Ganges, Alex Cobos, María Lourdes Abarca, Juan Antonio Raga, Marie-François Van Bressem, Mariano Domingo*

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: The causes of cetacean stranding and death along the Catalan coast were systematically investigated in the period 2012–2019. Necropsy and detailed pathological investigations were performed in 89 well-preserved stranded cetaceans including 72 striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba, 9 Risso’s dolphins Grampus griseus, 5 bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus, 1 common dolphin Delphinus delphis, 1 Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris and 1 fin whale Balaenoptera physalus. The cause of death was determined in 89.9% of the stranded cetaceans. Fisheries interaction was the most relevant cause of death in striped dolphins (27.8%) and in bottlenose dolphins (60%). Cetacean Morbillivirus (CeMV) was detected in the area from 2016 to 2017, causing systemic disease and death in 8 of the 72 (11.1%) striped dolphins. Chronic CeMV infection of the central nervous system was observed subsequently in 5 additional striped dolphins. Thus, acute and chronic CeMV disease caused the mortality of 18% of the striped dolphins and of 14.6% of all 89 cetaceans. Brucella ceti was isolated in 6 striped dolphins and 1 bottlenose dolphin with typical brucellosis lesions and in 1 additional striped dolphin with systemic CeMV. Sinusitis due to severe infestation by the nematode parasite Crassicauda grampicola caused the death of 4 out of 6 adult Risso’s dolphins. Maternal separation, in some cases complicated with septicemia, was a significant cause of death in 13 out of 14 calves. Other less frequent causes of death were Encephalomalacia of unknown origin, septicemia, peritonitis due to gastric perforation by parasites and hepatitis caused by Sarcocystis spp..