MEPS 496:207-218 (2014)  -  doi:10.3354/meps10490

Theme Section: Tracking fitness in marine vertebrates

Physiological stress response, reflex impairment, and survival of five sympatric shark species following experimental capture and release

A. J. Gallagher1,2,3,*, J. E. Serafy4,5, S. J. Cooke6, N. Hammerschlag1,2,4

1Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, University of Miami, PO Box 248203, Coral Gables, Florida 33146, USA
2RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
3Beneath the Waves Inc., 110 West Fayette St, Syracuse, New York 13202, USA
4Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
5National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
6Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology and Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: In many fisheries, some component of the catch is usually released. Quantifying the effects of capture and release on fish survival is critical for determining which practices are sustainable, particularly for threatened species. Using a standardized fishing technique, we studied sublethal (blood physiology and reflex impairment assessment) and lethal (post-release mortality with satellite tags) outcomes of fishing stress on 5 species of coastal sharks (great hammerhead, bull, blacktip, lemon, and tiger). Species-specific differences were detected in whole blood lactate, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and pH values, with lactate emerging as the sole parameter to be significantly affected by increasing hooking duration and shark size. Species-specific differences in reflex impairment were also found; however, we did not detect any significant relationships between reflex impairment and hooking duration. Taken together, we ranked each species according to degree of stress response, from most to least disturbed, as follows: hammerhead shark > blacktip shark > bull shark > lemon shark > tiger shark. Satellite tagging data revealed that nearly 100% of all tracked tiger sharks reported for at least 4 wk after release, which was significantly higher than bull (74.1%) and great hammerhead (53.6%) sharks. We discuss which mechanisms may lead to species-specific differences in sensitivity to fishing and suggest that observed variation in responses may be influenced by ecological and evolutionary phenomena. Moreover, our results show that certain species (i.e. hammerhead sharks in this study) are inherently vulnerable to capture stress and mortality resulting from fisheries interactions and should receive additional attention in future conservation strategies.


KEY WORDS: Stress · Physiology · Vulnerability · Fishing · Angling · Fisheries · Reflex impairment


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Cite this article as: Gallagher AJ, Serafy JE, Cooke SJ, Hammerschlag N (2014) Physiological stress response, reflex impairment, and survival of five sympatric shark species following experimental capture and release. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 496:207-218

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