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Poisonous animals
 
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
 
Venomous fish
 
Scorpions
 
Spiders
 
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
 
Sea snakes
 
Terrestrial snakes
 
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Genus/Species

 

Poisonous sea turtles

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below

Species

  1. Chelonia mydas
  2. Eretmochelys imbricata
  3. Dermochelys coriacea

Taxonomy

Reptilia; Chelonia; Chelonidae (1 and 2) and Dermochelidae (3)

Common names

  1. Green turtle, Suppenschildkröte
  2. Hawksbill turtle, Echte Karettschildkröte
  3. Leather turtle, Lederschildkröte

Distribution

Poisoning only seems to occur in the Indo-Pacific region (see below).

1. & 2. Tropical and subtropical oceans

3. primarily in tropical oceans

Biology

Large sea turtles. Dermochelys has a shell length of 2 m. Chelonia and Eretmochelys live close to the coast, Dermochelys in deeper waters and in the open sea. Chelonia in particular has become very scarce in places due to commercial over-exploitation. Its main source of food are algae. The other two species are omnivores and eat fish and other marine animals.

Poisonous individuals occur sporadically. As yet unidentified toxins are distributed throughout the body and are probably accumulated via the animals' diet.

Risk

Poisoning is known to occur in the Indo-Pacific region, in the triangle between southern India, Taiwan and New Guinea. Poisoning may take a severe or even fatal course. Of 365 reported cases, poisoning was fatal in 103 (28%) (Halstead 1988).

Signs and symptoms

According to Halstead (2001b), the following signs of poisoning appear within hours to days after consumption: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, epigastric pain, tightness of the chest, pallor, tachycardia, sweating, coldness of the extremities and vertigo. Acute stomatitis with a dry, burning sensation of the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth and thirst. Difficulties in swallowing, hypersalivation. White coating on the tongue and breath becomes very foul. Formation of reddish pustules on the tongue. Oral symptoms become very severe after several days.

Some victims may develop hepatomegaly, icteric conjunctivae and headaches. Deep reflexes may be diminished. In severe cases, somnolence, coma and death.

Treatment

Symptomatic.

Literature (biological)

Halstead 1988, 2001b