Research Communication

First record of the marine turtle leech (Ozobranchus margoi) on hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the inner granitic Seychelles

Byron M. Göpper, Nina M. Voogt, Andre Ganswindt
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 85, No 1 | a1604 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v85i1.1604 | © 2018 Byron M. Göpper, Nina M. Voogt, Andre Ganswindt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0
Submitted: 22 December 2017 | Published: 30 August 2018

About the author(s)

Byron M. Göpper, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Nina M. Voogt, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Andre Ganswindt, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria; Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Ozobranchus spp. are leeches that feed solely on turtle blood. They are common ectoparasites found on a range of marine turtle species, with some species of the leech being implicated as vectors of fibropapilloma-associated turtle herpesvirus (FPTHV). Green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles are the two commonly occurring species in the inner granitic islands of the Seychelles. Routine monitoring of nesting turtles on Cousine Island, Seychelles, allowed for opportunistic sightings of leeches on two hawksbill females. In both cases infestation was low, with three leeches collected off one female turtle and five off the other. No obvious signs of papillomas secondary to infection of FPTHV were seen. All of the turtle leeches collected were determined to be Ozobranchus margoi as they had five pairs of lateral digiform branchiae. The specimens were deposited in the Seychelles Natural History Museum on Mahé. To the best of our knowledge this is the first record of Ozobranchus margoi recorded in the inner granitic Seychelles on hawksbill turtles.

Keywords

cheloniidae; ozobranchidae; ectoparasite; Indian Ocean; Seychelles Archipelago

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