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Keywords:

  • Disease;
  • mortality;
  • sea urchin;
  • temperature;
  • wave height

Abstract

An outbreak of bald sea urchin disease was detected affecting intertidal populations of the edible temperate species Paracentrotus lividus at its southernmost geographical limit. The mortality event was detected in three sites (Güímar, Palmar and Alcalá) off Tenerife, Canary Islands (Northeastern Atlantic), in October 2003, coinciding with the highest sea surface temperatures (SST) and the lowest wave heights of the year. The prevalence of infection reached 100% but did not affect equally all studied sites or the different size classes. The disease was more prevalent in large sea urchins (>40 mm). The prevalence appeared to be positively correlated with the environmental variable SST and negatively correlated with wave height. In October 2004, only two infected urchins were found (prevalence 1%) at one of the studied sites. However, during 2004 no such extreme values of temperature and wave height were observed. We conclude that high SSTs and low wave heights such as those observed during 2003 are conditions that may trigger outbreaks of urchin disease.