Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

12-2010

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

David W. Kerstetter

Second Advisor

Harold Laubach

Third Advisor

Jose Lopez

Abstract

Natural mortality is a poorly known aspect of fisheries biology, despite its importance in stock assessments and population analysis. Of the many potential sources of mortality and morbidity in fishes, the effect of internal parasites is perhaps the least studied. Intestinal parasites may inhibit nutrient uptake as well as stimulate an inflammatory response in fish. Intestinal parasites of several tropical pelagic elasmobranchs, including silky and night sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis and C. signatus), the pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrygon violacea), and mesopelagic fishes including sailfin lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox), oilfish (Ruvettus pretiosus), snake mackerel (Gempylus serpens), escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum), and Atlantic pomfret (Brama brama) are described from the South Atlantic Bight in the western North Atlantic. Parasites recovered include cestodes, trematodes, acanthocephalans and nematodes. Total gastrointestinal parasite loads were compared against the size (both length and weight) of the host, showing no correlation in pelagic elasmobranchs and a small correlation in mesopelagic teleosts. Sex and parasite loads were also compared for elasmobranchs showing a weak correlation. Capture seasons were also compared, and other results of this research showed that the parasites in this study are not host-species specific. The observed parasite classes and total helminth loads are the first described for these five mesopelagic fishes and will serve as a baseline for further studies. Future research is suggested to ascertain if commercially valuable, co-occurring, co-existing pelagic fishes may also be at risk for similar intestinal parasite fauna and burdens.

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