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Effects of salinity and anatomical hook location on the mortality and physiological response of angled-and-released sand whiting Sillago ciliata

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Three experiments were done with sand whiting Sillago ciliata: the first two assessed the short-term mortality and physiological response of individuals after being mouth hooked and then subjected to rapid changes in salinity, while the third experiment investigated their longer-term fate after ingesting hooks (independent of salinity changes). In experiment one, 48 tanks containing a single S. ciliata were randomly assigned as either one of three treatments or a control. The fish in treatments one and two were exposed to salinity changes during their angling and subsequent release while those in treatment three were only subjected to angling and air exposure. Control fish remained untouched. Fish were then monitored for up to 6 days for mortalities before blood samples were taken to determine concentrations of plasma cortisol and glucose. Blood samples were also taken from five wild-caught fish to provide baseline estimates of the above variables. None of the treatment or control fish died over the 6 days, and there were no significant differences in blood cortisol or glucose between treatment, control and wild fish. In experiment two, 102 S. ciliata and 52 experimental tanks were used. The treatments were repeated as above, however, six individuals from each treatment and control group were removed and sampled for blood (and then glucose and cortisol) at 0, 24, 48 and 72 h post release. Some changes in behaviour due to the salinity changes occurred as well as a significant main effect of time for cortisol, with all fish having significantly elevated acute stress at the first sample time. In experiment three, 52 S. ciliata were placed into individual tanks. Twenty-six of these fish were allowed to ingest baited J-hooks, played for 60 s, removed from their tanks, and then released after their lines were cut (50 mm from their mouths). Control fish were not touched. All fish were then monitored over 21 days. Six of the treatment fish died (between 3 h and 14 days), while the remaining hooked fish resumed feeding within 5 days and 25% ejected their hooks (between 1 and 19 days). It was concluded that (1) salinity and mouth hooking had few independent or interactive effects on the mortality or physiological response of angled-and-released S. ciliata and (2) while hook ingestion caused some mortalities, the protracted physiological effects were limited, with all surviving fish resuming feeding and some eventually ejecting their hooks.

Keywords: Sillago ciliata; angling; hook location; salinity; sand whiting

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: NSW Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries Conservation Technology Unit, P. O. Box J321, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450, Australia

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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