Sealworm (Pseudoterranova decipiens) infection in common seals (Phoca vitulina) and potential intermediate fish hosts from the outer Oslofjord

Int J Parasitol. 1995 Mar;25(3):367-73. doi: 10.1016/0020-7519(94)00133-9.


Infection with Pseudoterranova decipiens in 45 common seals (Phoca vitulina) from the outer Oslofjord was investigated. Seals were collected before and during the phocine distemper virus epizootic in 1988 when the seal population in the area was reduced from about 350 to 100. In 1989, cod (Gadus morhua) and other fish species were sampled for comparison with earlier investigations on prevalence and abundance of P. decipiens infection in fishes from the outer Oslofjord. Seventy-two per cent of cod were infected with P. decipiens larvae in shallow waters between the seal skerries; the corresponding abundance was 2.2. At other fishing sites at increasing distances from the seal colony, abundance dropped to 0.05-0.20. Otoliths recovered from stomachs and scats indicated that gadids (Micromesistius poutassu, Trisopterus esmarkii and G. morhua) made up more than 80% of the seal diet. Bullrout (Myxocephalus scorpius) was also heavily infected with P. decipiens (prevalence 93% and abundance 8.4), but was not found in the seal diet. However, uninfected cod that enter shallow water from the surrounding deep waters became infected when they feed on bullrout. Recruitment to mature stock of P. decipiens occurs when highly infected cod are eaten by seals. The number of reproducing P. decipiens is very low in common seals. Only 2 seals (i.e. less than 5% of the sample) were simultaneously infected with mature worms of both sexes. The dramatic reduction of the seal stock in the outer Oslofjord by the epizootic did not seem to affect the abundance of P. decipiens in its intermediate hosts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascaridida Infections / epidemiology
  • Ascaridida Infections / veterinary*
  • Disease Vectors*
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Fish Diseases / epidemiology
  • Fish Diseases / parasitology
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / parasitology
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Seals, Earless / parasitology*