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Title: Decompression sickness ('the bends') in sea turtles
Authors: García-Párraga, D.
Crespo-Picazo, J. L.
Bernaldo de Quirós Miranda, Yara 
Cervera, V.
Martí-Bonmati, L.
Diaz Delgado, Josue 
Arbelo Hernández, Manuel Antonio 
Moore, M. J.
Jepson, P. D.
Fernández Rodríguez, Antonio Jesús 
UNESCO Clasification: 310907 Patología
Keywords: Decompression sickness
Sea turtles
Sea turtle diving physiology
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: 0177-5103
Journal: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 
Abstract: Decompression sickness (DCS), as clinically diagnosed by reversal of symptoms with recompression, has never been reported in aquatic breath-hold diving vertebrates despite the occurrence of tissue gas tensions sufficient for bubble formation and injury in terrestrial animals. Similarly to diving mammals, sea turtles manage gas exchange and decompression through anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations. In the former group, DCS-like lesions have been observed on necropsies following behavioral disturbance such as high-powered acoustic sources (e.g. active sonar) and in bycaught animals. In sea turtles, in spite of abundant literature on diving physiology and bycatch interference, this is the first report of DCS-like symptoms and lesions. We diagnosed a clinico-pathological condition consistent with DCS in 29 gas-embolized loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta from a sample of 67. Fifty-nine were recovered alive and 8 had recently died following bycatch in trawls and gillnets of local fisheries from the east coast of Spain. Gas embolization and distribution in vital organs were evaluated through conventional radiography, computed tomography, and ultrasound. Additionally, positive response following repressurization was clinically observed in 2 live affected turtles. Gas embolism was also observed postmortem in carcasses and tissues as described in cetaceans and human divers. Compositional gas analysis of intravascular bubbles was consistent with DCS. Definitive diagnosis of DCS in sea turtles opens a new era for research in sea turtle diving physiology, conservation, and bycatch impact mitigation, as well as for comparative studies in other air-breathing marine vertebrates and human divers.
ISSN: 0177-5103
DOI: 10.3354/dao02790
Source: Diseases Of Aquatic Organisms [ISSN 0177-5103], v. 111 (3), p. 191-205
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