The prevalence of spirorchiid fluke infections of marine turtles is high and may cause the death of the hosts throughout their ranges. Virtually nothing has been reported regarding the infective status of sea turtles stranded on Taiwan. Between 2007 and 2010, 30 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and 2 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), stranded and dead, were examined for spirorchiid flukes and their eggs. Twenty-four of the green turtles were juveniles, and the stranded loggerhead turtles were subadults. Adult spirorchiid flukes were found in 13 green turtles but not in the loggerheads. Four species of flukes were identified, namely, Leardius learedi, Hapalotrema postorchis, H. mehrai, and Carettacola hawaiiensis. The main infection sites were the major arteries and heart. Seventy percent of the green turtles harbored spirorchiid eggs, but no eggs were found in loggerheads. The largest eggs with bipolar spines, type I eggs, were found in every case. Although more than half of the stranded turtles were infected, parasite infections were not the main cause of death in the green turtles. Fishery by-catch is probably responsible for the mortality of these stranded turtles.
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Vol. 98 • No. 2