Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 483–487 | Cite as

Unintended backpackers: bio-fouling of the invasive gastropod Rapana venosa on the green turtle Chelonia mydas in the Río de la Plata Estuary, Uruguay

  • C. Lezama
  • A. Carranza
  • A. Fallabrino
  • A. Estrades
  • F. Scarabino
  • M. López-Mendilaharsu
Invasion Note


Here we report the first observations of the rapa whelk Rapana venosa massively bio-fouling immature green turtles Chelonia mydas. From November 2004 to July 2011, we examined 33 green turtles with rapa whelks attached to their carapaces in Uruguayan waters. The number of attached rapa whelks ranged from 1 to 49 individuals, representing up to 20 % of turtle weight. This previously unrecorded interaction may be of global importance to green turtles conservation because (a) immature green turtles from distant breeding populations utilize insular and coastal waters of the Río de la Plata estuary and Atlantic coast of Uruguay as developmental and foraging habitats and (b) attached whelks may reduce green turtle fitness by reducing buoyancy, increasing drag, and causing severe injuries to the carapace.


Rapana venosa Chelonia mydas Biofouling Biological invasions Uruguay 



We would like to thanks to Coco Meirana and Alfredo Hargain for their kind collaboration with the collection of turtles. B. Morton is acknowledged for providing insights on the causes of this interaction, as well as the editors and two anonymous referees that helped to improve the manuscript. Financial support from BP Conservation Programme and IFAW to Karumbé members and Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (ANII) and Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation to AC is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Lezama
    • 1
  • A. Carranza
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Fallabrino
    • 1
  • A. Estrades
    • 1
  • F. Scarabino
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. López-Mendilaharsu
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Biodiversidad y ConservaciónKARUMBEMontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.Centro Universitario Regional Este-CURE, Sede MaldonadoUniversidad de la RepúblicaMaldonadoUruguay
  3. 3.Área Biodiversidad y ConservaciónMuseo Nacional de Historia NaturalMontevideoUruguay
  4. 4.Dirección Nacional de Recursos Acuáticos, Constituyente 1497MontevideoUruguay
  5. 5.Fundação Pró-TAMARSalvadorBrazil

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