Fibropapillomatosis Affecting Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas)

Fibropapillomatosis is a disease that is affecting sea turtles all around the world. Turtles that are most at risk are those that live in near-shore waters and lagoons, especially areas next to large human populations with poor sewage treatment facilities. In this research project the main focus is fibropapillomatosis (FP) and green sea turtles captured by netting in Lac Bay, Bonaire. The research goal was to see how turtles living in Bonaire are affected by the disease. The two main research questions were: “What is the true rate of fibropapillomatosis affecting green sea turtles in Lac Bay?” and “What is the difference between healthy turtles and infected turtles that are caught by netting?”
To determine the true rate of FP, the percentage of diseased turtles is calculated as the percentage of captured turtles with FP compared to the whole amount captured during netting conducted from 2006 until 2014. In 2006 rates of FP were 20 percent, the infection rates then decreased dramatically, even reaching zero percent in 2010. FP rates started increasing again after 2012, and in 2014 the rates of FP now stand at 34 percent (n=89). It is still uncertain what causes FP to increase. To determine the difference between healthy turtles and diseased turtles, the length, weight, and overall growth rates have been assessed. Recapture rates were also assessed, to determine if diseased turtles were captured more, because of their limitations. There was a significant difference (p < 0.001) found between recapture rates of healthy and diseased turtles indicating that healthy turtles are recaptured more often than diseased turtles. Assessed length and weight of diseased turtles are not significantly different than from healthy turtles (p < 0.001). The growth rate in this research was not significantly different between healthy and diseased turtles. Overall there was no significant difference found between healthy turtles and diseased turtles living in Lac Bay, not in length, weight or in growth rates. The implications of this research suggest that the overall survival rate of turtles with FP on Bonaire is relatively high in comparison to other areas of the Caribbean. This could be due to the tumors not restricting the turtles to such a degree that they are unable to forage or flee.
Retrieved from on April 13, 2015

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