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Dolphin found to have died from parasite found in cats

Scientists have determined that the death of a spinner dolphin found off Hawaii Island last year was caused by a parasite-borne disease that has threatened Hawaii’s monk seal population.

The death is the first documented case of toxoplasmosis killing a spinner dolphin in more than 25 years. Toxoplasmosa gondii is a parasite that is primarily spread by cat feces, Hawaii News Now reported.

Kristi West, associate professor of biology at Hawaii Pacific University and the director of the state’s marine stranding program, said the recent lab results are a concern for Hawaii conservationists. West and her team are responsible for determining the cause of death for all whales and dolphins that die in Hawaii waters.

She said her lab will conduct further testing of dead spinner dolphins that were never tested for toxoplasmosis to see if the disease poses a larger threat to the animals.

“It’s really concerning for us,” West said. “Is this a population threat to spinner dolphins like it is for Hawaiian monk seals?”

Last year, a monk seal that died near the Ala Wai Boat Harbor tested positive for Toxoplasmosa gondii. The disease has now been blamed for the deaths of at least eight Hawaiian monk seals.

Toxoplasmosa gondii is common in both feral and household cats in Hawaii.

“The vector is really cat feces that get into the watershed, and it’s very persistent,” West said.

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  • Feral cats are a real threat to the environment. I will resume donating to the humane societies once again when the change their policy toward feral cats. “Spay and release” is just enabling irresponsible people. If someone “cares” about cats, take them in to your house. If not, take them to the pound for adoption or to be put down. But don’t just let them run wild until they die slow painful deaths from injury or disease, and and also encouraging other irresponsible people to dump their cats at an existing colony.

  • Ever been to the Hawaii Kai park and ride? Hundreds of cats there and Caldwell and the city have a terrible record on feral animals including chickens and cats. Maybe with monk seals and dolphins dropping dead will get them to do something. I’m not saying kill them all but at least treat them for this parasite then capture and spay/ neuter and put them in some enclosure somewhere if they can’t be adopted.

  • From Cataluna’s last story relating to the failure of the Honolulu zoo, Oahu rail project and the Waikiki Natatorium, this ocean disease story is another reason why the Waikiki Natatorium can never be restored as a ocean water swimming pool. Bad diseases that were NOT present in the day of Duke Kahanamoku have made their way to the oceans and stagnant ocean water in the natatorium pool can never be kept clean and safe enough for people to swim in unless they chlorinate which would kill all nearby ocean life. Keep the memorial arch, remove the pool and return the area as a beach that it once was long ago.

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