Animal ID: Young, male, harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena).

Organ: Formalin-fixed lung specimens obtained from a harbour porpoise whose systemic necropsy could not be performed in the field.

Clinical findings: The harbour porpoise was found during the fieldwork in which the stranded cetaceans were observed. Decomposition code was 3 (1: fresh, 5: mumified) (Figure 1). Lung tissue that could be sampled while taking stomach samples under field conditions was examined in Istanbul University-Cerrapaşa, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathology.

Histopathological findings:  Severe verminous pneumonia with intense polymorphic and mononuclear cell infiltrates in the alveolar walls in inflammatory areas, in which parasitic  foci with numerous Halocercus sp. eggs and larvae seen in the lumens of the bronchi and bronchioles (Figure 2) and parasitic granulomas surrounded by multinucleated macrophages with parasite sections and necrotic material in the middle (Figure 3).

Diagnosis: Verminous pneumonia.

Examination of stranded marine mammals is extremely important in order to determine the causes of death and help to preserve their populations. Verminous pneumonia has an important place among the causes of interstitial pneumonia in marine mammals. Although it is seen in most of the stranded cetaceans, its severity varies from individual to individual, and it is often not a cause of death by itself. Necropsy of this individual, who was stranded in 2011, could not be performed under field conditions, but the histopathological examination of the lung sample taken due to the color change observed in the lungs during sampling showed that this individual had severe verminous pneumonia. With the infrastructure created in our country thanks to the stranding network of Istanbul University and TUDAV, systemic necropsy of the stranded marine mammals stranded can be performed on time, and clearer data on the causes of death are revealed. This case is a striking example of verminous pneumonia, which is common in stranded cetaceans. It is essential for veterinary pathologists to take part in wildlife studies and perform systemic necropsies to determine causes of death, and being part of the efforts to determine policies for the protection of endangered species.

This case is included in the poster presentation of Işıl Aytemiz, Erdem Danyer, Funda Yildirim and Aydin Gürel at the 28th European Setase Union Conference (2014, Liege, Belgium),  “A preliminary pathological and parasitological study on cetaceans in Turkey: five cases from the western Black Sea Coast”.



Aytemiz I, Danyer E, Yıldırım F, Gürel A.  A preliminary pathological and parasitological study on cetaceans in Turkey:  five cases from the western Black Sea coast. 28th Conference of the European Cetacean Society Abstract Book, p.97, Liège, Belgium, 2014.


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Archive Material: Turkish Marine Research Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey

Archive ID: 11002



Fig 1. Stranded young male harbour porpoise



Fig 2. Verminous pneumonia, parasite sections  

– Fig 3. Parasitic granulomas surrounded by multinucleated macrophages and severe polymorphonuclear and mononuclear cell infiltrations in alveolar walls