Poisoning from eating clupeoid fishes such as sardines and herrings (Clupeidae) or anchovies (Engaulidae), termed clupeotoxism, is widespread in tropical and subtropical areas of the world but rare. A fatal case occurred in Kaua‘i in 1978 from the consumption of the Marquesan Sardine (Sardinella marquesensis). This species has been replaced in abundance in the Hawaiian Islands by another import, the Goldspot Sardine (Herklotsichthys quadrimaculatus). Onuma et al. (1999) obtained the head of a specimen of this sardine that caused a fatality in Madagascar and found that it contained palytoxin. Because bottom sediment was detected on the gills and in the esophagus, they concluded that the fish is a bottom-feeder, and the benthic dinoflagellate Ostreopsis siamensis, known to produce palytoxin, the toxic organism. The sediment on the gills was more likely the result of the fish being dragged over the substratum by a seine. The Goldspot Sardine feeds on zooplankton, not benthic organisms. Therefore, a pelagic dinoflagellate is the probable producer of palytoxin.
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