Diseases of flounder (<i>Platichthys flesus</i> L.) in the Dutch Wadden Sea, and their relation to stress factors

TitleDiseases of flounder (Platichthys flesus L.) in the Dutch Wadden Sea, and their relation to stress factors
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsVethaak, D
Pagination257 - 271
Date Published1992/06/01
ISBN Number0077-7579

In 1988 a survey was conducted on the occurrence of gross pathologies in flounder (Platichthys flesus L.) in the Dutch Wadden Sea in relation to stress factors, especially near fresh-water drainage sluices. A total of 9608 flounder were collected from 16 sites in June and September. Diseases recorded were: skin ulcers (affecting 7.7% of fish); fin rot (2.8%; only included in the study in September); lymphocystis (3.7%); skeletal deformities (0.3%); liver nematode infections (5.0%); intestinal cysts of the parasite Glugea sp. (0.4%); and liver nodules (pre-neoplastic and neoplastic lesions) (< 0.1%). Prevalences of skin ulcers and fin rot in Wadden Sea flounder are considerably higher than in those captured off the Dutch North Sea coast or in the Elbe estuary in Germany. These high disease levels in the Wadden Sea, however, are largely due to extremely high prevalences of skin ulcers observed near the drainage sluices of Lake IJssel, indicating a localized effect. Fin rot occurs at relatively high prevalences over the whole study area, but the data should be interpreted with some caution, due to diagnostic problems. Associations with possible disease determinants were investigated and causal hypotheses formulated. In general fish seem to develop skin diseases at sites with strong salinity fluctuations. Nutritional deficiencies possibly related to strong salinity fluctuations, high bacterial loads in the environment and obstacles to fish migration through sluices are amongst the most likely factors determining the locally high levels of skin ulcers. Although not established, it is possible that pollution-related factors and contaminant bioavailability are important. The stress imposed by a combination of these factors may adversely affect the immune system, making the fish vulnerable to opportunistic bacterial infection.

Short TitleNetherlands Journal of Sea Research