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Marine Mammal Parasite of the Month Answer- April 2021

Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

This parasite is the marine mammal lungworm! Here at NMLC the most common lung worm infections we see present in our seals are Otostrongylus circumlitus and Parafilaroides gymnurus. These are mostly found during routine fecal analysis of our seals, but can also be seen during necropsies as well. Some of the first signs of a parasitic infection in the lungs would be anorexia, coughing, and there may even be bloody mucosal discharge coming from their mouth or nose. Some seals have been reported to be dehydrated, show signs of a depressed state,...

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Marine Mammal Parasite of the Month- April 2021

Posted by on Apr 25, 2021 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

This type of parasite is common in pinnipeds and there are two different species commonly seen in the seals here at NMLC. Their life cycle remains a small mystery to researchers as there’s not much information regarding it, but patterns reveal that fish are the perfect intermediate hosts for these parasites. The adult form can be most commonly found directly in the trachea or in the bronchi or bronchioles of the pinniped. They can also occasionally inhabit the heart or pulmonary arteries and their larvae can be seen in fecal matter. This...

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Remembering Owls Head

Posted by on Apr 10, 2021 in Animals, Featured | 2 comments

Historically harbor seal pup season has always been the busiest, most demanding season for the NMLC animal care team both physically and emotionally. It requires our team to be here round the clock, to serve as surrogates as these abandoned pups must now learn all of their critical survival skills from us without becoming habituated, and due to the fragility of these animals, the team has to be ready for anything- including death.

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Marine Mammal Parasite of the Month- March 2021 Answer

Posted by on Apr 1, 2021 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

The parasite is known as the Bolbosoma species, a member of the Acanthocephala phylum. Due to its appearance, its common name is “thorny-headed worm”. A Bolbosoma infection can be diagnosed through visible larvae in the fecal matter. An animal with abdominal discomfort can also be in indicator of intestinal worms. Unfortunately, no effective treatment has been found for this infection in marine animals. Most of the information on this mature parasite comes from worms examined after being removed from the dead animals’ intestine. In human...

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Marine Mammal Parasite of the Month- March 2021

Posted by on Mar 18, 2021 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

This parasite is most commonly reported in cetaceans, but some cases has been seen in pinnipeds, fish and rarely humans. It is distinguishable thanks to their longitudinal rows of overlapping hooks on their proboscis, the hollow retractable extremity used to latch onto its host. This parasite can be as small as 1millimeter long or grow to over 1 meter long! It inhabits the small intestine of its host and cannot complete its life cycle without a vector or intermediate host. Experts can name 14 nominal species of this parasite, each with a...

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Patient Update: January 21, 2021

Posted by on Jan 21, 2021 in Animals, Featured | 8 comments

Since our most recent blog post in November, a lot has been going on here at NMLC! We’ve been kept busy by a record-breaking sea turtle stranding season here on Cape Cod. Here’s a quick rundown of some details from this sea turtle season:  A total of 1174 sea turtles were reported by the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary this season. Not all of these turtles were still alive when they were found, but this season did see the highest number of live strandings ever recorded in Cape Cod! Sea turtles that were still alive when...

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Parasite of the Month- Answer December 2020

Posted by on Dec 17, 2020 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

This parasite is Zalophotrema hepaticum, a species of trematode or fluke. Pinnipeds obtain this parasite through the ingestion of infected fish. Although this species is usually confined to the liver, recent studies have found evidence of this trematode migrating to the brain of sea lions, laying eggs, and causing fatal brain damage.     Posted by Meaghan K. Meaghan is a fall intern who is majoring in Marine and Freshwater Biology at Colgate University.   Sources Fauquier, D., Gulland, F., Haulena, M., Dailey, M., Rietcheck,...

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Marine Mammal Parasite of the Month- December 2020

Posted by on Dec 10, 2020 in Featured, Under the Microscope | 0 comments

This is a parasite we often find in pinnipeds. Although the most common host is the California sea lion, they are also found in Stellar’s sea lions, northern elephant seals, and Pacific harbor seals. This parasite is usually found in the liver or the adjacent bile duct. It can reach up to 21mm in length and 5mm in width. This parasite also has an oral sucker use for attaching to the host’s organs. What is this parasite and how does it affect pinnipeds?     Posted by Meaghan K. Meaghan is a fall intern who is majoring in Marine...

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The Natural History, Biology, and Conservation of Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Posted by on Dec 4, 2020 in Featured, Teaching | 0 comments

The Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world (National Geographic). It is found in warm temperate and subtropical waters throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA]). Although it’s the most populous sea turtle in the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, all of its distinct populations around the world are recognized as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (NOAA). As an opportunistic...

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Heartworm in Phocids

Posted by on Nov 27, 2020 in Featured, Teaching | 0 comments

Phocids, also known as earless seals or true seals, are common coastal marine mammals. Since 1972, seals have been protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and are cared for frequently in rehabilitation settings. Beyond human interference, seals encounter a variety of diseases and infections while in the wild. Parasitic infections are regularly found in wild seals and, in some cases, can have detrimental effects on the seal’s health. When trying to maintain healthy population sizes, it is important for animal care professionals to...

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