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Fisheries Behavioral Ecology - Abstracts

Brill, R., C. Magel, M. Davis, R. Hannah, and P. Rankin. 2008. Effects of rapid decompression and exposure to bright light on visual function in black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) and Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis).  Fishery Bulletin 106:427-437.


Demersal fishes hauled up from depth experience rapid decompression. In physoclists, this can cause overexpansion of the swim bladder and resultant injuries to multiple organs (barotrauma), including severe exophthalmia (“pop-eye”). Before release, fishes can also be subjected to asphyxia and exposure to direct sunlight. Little is known, however, about possible sensory deficits resulting from the events accompanying capture. To address this issue, electroretinography was used to measure the changes in retinal light sensitivity, flicker fusion frequency, and spectral sensitivity in black rockfish (Sebastes melanops) subjected to rapid decompression (from 4 atmospheres absolute [ATA] to 1 ATA) and Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) exposed to 15 minutes of simulated sunlight. Rapid decompression had no measurable influence on retinal function in black rockfish. In contrast, exposure to bright light significantly reduced retinal light sensitivity of Pacific halibut, predominately by affecting the photopigment which absorbs the green wavelengths of light (≈520–580 nm) most strongly. This detriment is likely to have severe consequences for postrelease foraging success in green-wavelength-dominated coastal waters. The visual system of Pacific halibut has characteristics typical of species adapted to low light environments, and these characteristics may underlie their vulnerability to injury from exposure to bright light.


Last updated 30 March, 2009

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