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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03600

    Post mortem examinations of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in southwest England, including pups in early rehabilitation, contribute to our understanding of species patholog

    J. E. F. Barnett*, R. Allen, K. Astley, F. Whitehouse, M. E. Wessels

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Few investigations have been carried out into the pathology of grey seals Halichoerus grypus in southwest England, where the grey seal is the most abundant marine mammal. The primary pathological findings from 107 post mortem examinations of grey seals in southwest England between 2013 and 2020 are presented. Over three quarters were pups in their first year of life, and origins of 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 alive, 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 prior to 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.