On 16 September 2015, a red tide (Karenia brevis) bloom impacted coastal areas of Padre Island National Seashore Park, Texas, US. Two days later and about 0.9 km inland, 30–40 adult green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) were found dead after displaying tremors, weakness, labored breathing, and other signs of neurologic impairment. A rainstorm accompanied by high winds, rough surf, and high tides, which could have aerosolized brevetoxin, occurred on the morning of the mortality event. Frog carcasses were in good body condition but contained significant brevetoxin in tissues. Tissue brevetoxin was also found in two dead or dying spotted ground squirrels (Xerospermophilus spilosoma) and a coyote (Canis latrans) found in the area. Rainwater collected from the location of the mortality event contained brevetoxin. Green tree frog and ground squirrel mortality has not been previously attributed to brevetoxin exposure and such mortality suggested that inland toxin transport, possibly through aerosols, rainfall, or insects, may have important implications for coastal species.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1