Recovery from acute, chronic and transport stress in the pot-bellied seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis

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Recovery from acute and chronic stress in the pot-bellied seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis under aquaculture conditions was investigated in this study to evaluate (a) whether these relatively slow and sedentary fish develop the ‘fight or flight’ response and (b) the impact of transportation stress on pot-bellied seahorse physiology. Fish were exposed to either a control treatment, an acute stressor (air exposure for 60 s) or a chronic stressor (confinement or transportation). Plasma concentrations of cortisol, glucose and lactate did not increase in response to an acute stressor, suggesting that adrenergic activation was absent. In contrast, chronic stress initiated increases in cortisol (77 ng ml−1) and glucose (7 mM), which both returned to pre-stress concentrations (4 ng ml−1, 4 mM respectively) within the subsequent 6 h. Recovery from chronic stress thus fitted the teleost paradigm, i.e. plasma levels of cortisol and glucose returned to pre-stress values in c. 6 h during recovery from a chronic stressor. The seemingly rapid return to homeostasis suggests that special precautions, over and above normal procedures, may not be required for long-distance transportation of pot-bellied seahorses.

Keywords: camouflage; cortisol; seahorse; stress response; transportation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: NIWA P. O. Box 8602, Christchurch, New Zealand 2: The Seahorse Farm, P. O. Box 110, Clive, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 3: Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P. O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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