Recovery from catch-and-release angling in Gulf of Mexico fishes

Access full-text files




Martin, Leighann Marie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Catch-and-release angling (CAR), the process of releasing fish back to the wild post catch, has increasingly been regarded by various stakeholders as an effective measure to preserve wild fish populations. However, traditional fights on rod-and-reel between anglers and fish can cause sublethal physiological disturbances within a fish’s blood and white muscle. Recently, studies are recognizing the importance of understanding the difference in intraspecific and interspecific species responses to these stressors, and many emphasize that larger fish have a larger internal disturbance and longer recovery time. With species specific studies to investigate the physiological responses to angling, stakeholders and policymakers can make species specific CAR regulations. Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), a sportfish in the Gulf of Mexico, are highly sought after but are physiologically unique as one of the only marine air breathing fishes. Physiologically, air breathing fishes have a modified air bladder, and which could therefore result in species specific guidelines in order to release the fish safely. This research characterized Atlantic tarpon as facultative, or optional air breathers and saw no differences in recovery time with having access to air to breathe or not. Secondly, the study presented the recovery time for tarpon using common indices of stress, like lactate. Here, tarpon were stressed post-exercise but recovered within 4 h. This work suggests that although tarpon are a physiologically unique marine fish, their ability to air breathe likely does not play a role in recovery after exhaustive exercise. Thus, the study did not find a need for a different CAR protocol. To study intraspecific variation of size on recovery from exhaustive exercise, this work used red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), another economically important sportfish native to the Gulf of Mexico. This study characterized the recovery profile of red drum with the added variable of looking into the effect of size on magnitude of physiological disturbance and time to recovery. Red drum were found to have a larger disturbance shown in lactate build-up and increased plasma osmolalities with increasing size class, and thus had a longer recovery time compared to the smaller size class



LCSH Subject Headings