In October 2009, during a Karenia brevis red tide along the Texas coast, millions of dead fish washed ashore along the 113-km length of Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS). Between November 2009 and January 2010, at least 12 coyotes (Canis latrans) and three domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) died or were euthanized at PAIS or local veterinary clinics because of illness suspected to be related to the red tide. Another red tide event occurred during autumn 2011 and, although fewer dead fish were observed relative to the 2009 event, coyotes again were affected. Staff at PAIS submitted carcasses of four coyotes and one domestic dog from November 2009 to February 2010 and six coyotes from October to November 2011 for necropsy and ancillary testing. High levels of brevetoxins (PbTxs) were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in seven of the coyotes and the dog, with concentrations up to 634 ng PbTx-3 eq/g in stomach contents, 545 ng PbTx-3 eq/g in liver, 195 ng PbTx-3 eq/g in kidney, and 106 ng PbTx-3 eq/mL in urine samples. Based on red tide presence, clinical signs, and postmortem findings, brevetoxicosis caused by presumptive ingestion of toxic dead fish was the likely cause of canid deaths at PAIS. These findings represent the first confirmed report of terrestrial mammalian wildlife mortalities related to a K. brevis bloom. The implications for red tide impacts on terrestrial wildlife populations are a potentially significant but relatively undocumented phenomenon.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4