A male neonatal Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardsi) stranded off the coast of California, USA, was presented for rehabilitation with numerous partially haired, soft tissue masses around the mouth and in the oropharynx. Because of the extent of the lesions, the seal was humanely euthanized. Histologically, the masses consisted of subepithelial connective tissue and subcutis expanded by a proliferation of streams and bundles of spindle to stellate cells. Morphology of these cells suggested a neural origin, which was confirmed by positive immunohistochemistry for two neural markers, S-100 protein and glial fibrillary acidic protein, so the masses were diagnosed as neuroglial heterotopia. Heterotopic neuroglial tissue is a rare lesion comprised of benign mature neural tissue in an ectopic location with no connection to the central nervous system. Results of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolite analysis of bile indicated recent exposure to a petroleum source. Although fetal exposure to PAHs in utero can cause neurotoxicity and affect normal embryonic development, it is unknown whether gestational exposure occurred in this case.
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Vol. 47 • No. 1