Gill lesions associated with infections of Erpocotyle tiburonis (Brooks, 1934) (Monogenea: Hexabothriidae) on wild bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo (L., 1758) (Carcharhiniformes: Sphyrinidae)) were compared with those on aquarium-held ones using light and scanning electron microscopy. Uninfected gill filaments had slender, triangular, smooth-surfaced lamellae and interlamellar water channels that were approximately equal in size. Four wild sharks were each infected by 3–11 widely separated adult E. tiburonis, and 1 of these sharks hosted a juvenile specimen. Lamellae flanking or touching adult E. tiburonis were pushed aside or bent, but were otherwise identical to those of uninfected filaments. Two aquarium-held sharks were each infected by hundreds of juvenile and adult E. tiburonis. In these sharks, lamellae near juveniles were pushed apart or bent, but were otherwise normal, whereas a thick, ragged-surfaced layer of hyperplastic epithelium both filled interlamellar water channels and partially or completely covered lamellae near adults. Results of this study suggest that the intense infections of E. tiburonis were facilitated by captivity and caused severe hyperplastic lesions that ultimately led to the death of the sharks by reducing or blocking the respiratory water flow over lamellae and thus reducing the exchange of gases and ions across the lamellar epithelium. In contrast, the wild sharks were infected by fewer worms and exhibited relatively minor lesions.

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