| Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 42(3), 2006, pp. 651-657|
© Wildlife Disease Association 2006
Acute Lead Toxicosis in a Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) Consequent to Ingestion of a Lead Fishing Sinker
Tanja S. Zabka1,5,6, Martin Haulena2, Birgit Puschner3, Frances M. D. Gulland2, Patricia A. Conrad4 and L. J. Lowenstine1,4
1 Anatomic Pathology Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA;
2 The Marine Mammal Center, 1065 Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, California 94965, USA;
3 California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System–Toxicology Laboratory, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA;
4 Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA
6 Corresponding author (email: email@example.com)
ABSTRACT: An adult female harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) stranded in northern California on 25 June 2004, exhibited progressive weakness, disorientation, and seizures, and despite therapy, died within 4 days. On pathologic examination, a lead fishing sinker was in the stomach, and changes in the brain, heart, kidney, liver, lymph nodes, and spleen were supportive of acute lead toxicosis. The diagnosis was made on the basis of concentrations of lead in the sinker (90–98% lead), antemortem whole blood (0.66 ppm), and postmortem tissues (84 ppm, wet weight liver). This first documented case of lead toxicosis in a wild marine mammal demonstrates an additional way in which human fishing activities can harm marine mammals.
Key words: Brain, heart, hemosiderosis, lead sinker, pathology, Phoca vitulina richardsi, pinniped, toxicology.