Relationship between fibropapillomatosis and environmental quality: a case study with Chelonia mydas off Brazil.


We documented the presence of fibropapillomatosis (FP), a debilitating tumor-forming disease, in marine turtles in Espirito Santo Bay (Brazil) from March 2007 to April 2008, and assessed the value of a specific environmental index for predicting the prevalence of FP. Turtles were captured monthly with entanglement nets and scored for presence and severity of FP. For the assessment of habitat quality, we used the ecological evaluation index (EEI) based on benthic macrophytes. The FP-free control area was classified as good quality (EEI = 8) and the study area, with high FP prevalence, was classified as bad quality (EEI= 2). Prevalence of FP in the study area was 58.3% with an average of 40 tumors per individual, and prevalence varied positively with curved carapace length (CCL). No FP was seen in the control area. The number of turtles heavily afflicted (tumor score category 3) was 10 times larger than those lightly affected (tumor score category 1). Most tumors were found on or near the front and rear flippers; no oral tumors or internal tumors were found. At recapture, 41% of formerly tumor-free turtles revealed FP, often increasing in severity with time, and very few turtles showed signs of disease regression. From the results of this study we concluded that FP is particularly severe in Espírito Santo Bay. Future studies should focus on evaluating how widespread FP is in Brazil, whether prevalence is increasing or decreasing, and elucidating the pathology and pathogenesis of FP in sea turtles in Brazil.

DOI: 10.3354/dao02178

Cite this paper

@article{Santos2010RelationshipBF, title={Relationship between fibropapillomatosis and environmental quality: a case study with Chelonia mydas off Brazil.}, author={Robson Guimar{\~a}es dos Santos and Agnaldo Silva Martins and Evelise Torezani and Cec{\'i}lia Baptistotte and Farias Julyana da N{\'o}brega and Paulo Antunes Horta and Thierry M Work and George H. Balazs}, journal={Diseases of aquatic organisms}, year={2010}, volume={89 1}, pages={87-95} }