Naturally occurring lesions and micro-organisms in two species of free-living sharks: the spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias L., and the smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis (Mitchill), from the north-western Atlantic
Twenty-three smooth dogfish, Mustelus canis L., and 20 spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias (Mitchill), were examined for the presence of diseases. Sharks were collected from the north-western Atlantic between April and September 2000. Major organs were sampled for histopathology and bacterial cultures were taken from kidneys. Macroscopic lesions were infrequent and included intestinal cestodiasis and gastric and dermal erosions. Microscopic lesions were common in both shark species. Mustelus canis had numerous degenerative lesions involving the pancreatic ducts, seminiferous tubules and coronary vessels. The most frequent lesions in S. acanthias were parasitic and included pancreatic nematodiasis and biliary myxosporeosis. Additionally, both species had focal meningitis, encephalitis, dermatitis, gastritis, enteritis and glomerulomesangial thickening. Microscopic parasites included intestinal coccidiosis, unclassified gastric and testicular protozoa, skeletal muscle and renal tubular myxosporeans, a branchial trichodinid ciliate, olfactory and branchial trematodes, gastrointestinal cestodes and larval nematodes. Shewanella putrefaciens, Photobacterium sp., Vibrio sp., Pseudomonas sp. and Alteromonas sp. were isolated from kidneys of nine sharks. The role of the above lesions in the natural mortality and morbidity of the two shark species is unknown. The finding that apparently healthy sharks can harbour potentially debilitating lesions warrants the inclusion of histopathological studies in the management and conservation of sharks.
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