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

Oliveira REM, Pires JML, Batista JS, Attademo FLN, Farias DSD, Freire ACB, Bomfim AC, Lima LRP, Oliveira RM, Gavilan SA, Silva FJL, Oliveira MF (2020): Death of a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) from ingestion of an eel (Myrichthys ocellatus). Vet Med-Czech 65, 415–420.

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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, presumably, the first case of a death of a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) from ingesting a live goldspotted eel (Myrichthys ocellatus) and describe 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. The histopathological examination of the lung showed fibrin and numerous leukocytes, mainly macrophages, in the alveolus and bronchioles. The necropsy revealed that the ingestion of a live goldspotted eel (M. ocellatus) caused a gastric perforation in the turtle; this resulted in the displacement of the eel to the celomatic cavity with its cranial portion in the left lung, leading to sepsis and the consequent death of the turtle.

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