4 years ago

A description of the gross pathology of drowning and other causes of mortality in seabirds

A description of the gross pathology of drowning and other causes of mortality in seabirds
David N. Fisher, Victor R. Simpson
Mortality of seabirds due to anthropogenic causes, especially entrapment in fishing gear, is a matter of increasing international concern. This study aimed at characterising the gross pathology of seabirds that drowned in fishing nets and comparing it with that in other common causes of mortality. Post-mortem examinations were performed on 103 common guillemots, 32 razorbills, 37 shags and 5 great northern divers found stranded in Cornwall during 1981–2016. Pathology in birds that died in confirmed incidents of drowning in fishing nets (n = 95) was compared with that in cases of suspected drowning (n = 6), oil (n = 53) and polyisobutylene (PIB) (n = 3) pollution, adverse weather (n = 6) and stranding of unknown cause (14). The majority of drowned birds were in good nutritional state, freshly dead and approximately 50% had freshly ingested fish in their proximal gut. Principle lesions were: gross distention of the heart and major veins with dark blood, intensely congested, swollen and oedematous lungs which released white frothy fluid when excised, watery fluid in the air sacs that ranged from clear to deep red depending on state of carcase preservation. PIB-affected birds were in good nutritional state; their pathology was largely consistent with that in confirmed drowning cases; it is likely that drowning was the ultimate cause of death. Birds affected by oil, adverse weather or that stranded due to unknown cause were all in poor or emaciated condition, the mean body mass of the guillemots and razorbills being, respectively, 53 and 57% of those that drowned. They had little or no food in their alimentary tracts and many showed evidence of enteric inflammation, haemorrhage and ulceration. None had fluid in their air sacs and none showed significant cardio-respiratory system lesions. Drowned birds consistently showed a distinctive set of gross pathological lesions. When combined with contemporaneous observations, the pathology may be sufficient to permit a diagnosis of drowning, especially where a batch of freshly dead birds are examined. The observations in this study are likely to be of value when investigating stranding incidents, particularly where it is suspected that legislation aimed at protecting seabirds is not being complied with.
You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.