Death of a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) from ingestion of an eel (Myrichthys ocellatus)

Gastrointestinal perforation in sea turtles may be associated with the ingestion of solid waste; however, other factors, including the ingestion of marine organisms, may cause intestinal perforation. Herein, we report the first case of the death of a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) from ingestion of a live goldspotted eel (Myrichthys ocellatus) and have described the necropsy findings. The adult female loggerhead sea turtle was registered alive by a team of the Cetáceos da Costa Branca Project of Rio Grande do Norte State University (PCCB-UERN). The animal died in captivity after 8 days of an attempted rehabilitation process, and the carcass was immediately sent for necropsy. After incision, an encapsulated structure in the cranial region of the left lung was identified as a specimen of the ingested eel. Histopathological examination of the lung showed fibrin and numerous leukocytes, mainly macrophages, in the alveolus and bronchioles. Necropsy revealed that ingestion of a live goldspotted eel (M. ocellatus) caused a gastric perforation in the turtle; this resulted in displacement of the eel to the celomatic cavity with its cranial portion in the left lung, leading to sepsis and consequent death of the turtle.

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