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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03605

    Subcutaneous, abdominal and thoracic encapsulated fat necrosis in bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus from Alaska, USA

    Raphaela Stimmelmayr*, David S. Rotstein, Gay Sheffield, John Craig George

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: We describe a case series of encapsulated fat necrosis with subcutaneous, abdominal and thoracic location in seven subsistence harvested bowhead whales Balaena mysticetus. Masses had a variably-dense fibrous capsule surrounding necrotic adipocytes and calcium salts (saponification). One animal also had prior concussive injury, pleural fibrosis, and hepatic lipoma; other animals had no significant findings. The described condition is uncommon in bowhead whales with 7/575 (1.2%) observed from 1996 to 2015. The exact mechanisms of development of encapsulated fat necrosis in bowhead whales remain to be determined. Encapsulated fat necrosis has been reported in other baleen whales, humans, and cows. It is usually an incidental finding during post-mortem examination that needs to be differentiated from neoplastic and inflammatory lesions as the latter may have public health implications. Assessment of further cases in bowhead whales and other baleen whales is warranted to better understand their pathogenesis.