Jumping fish to save the salmon industry millions of dollars: new study

Dec 05, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have shown for the first time that salmon can be artificially stimulated to leap through water, opening the door to effective sea lice treatment, an infection that costs the global industry more than $500 million each year.

Dr Tim Dempster from the University of Melbourne and researchers from the Institute of Marine Research in Norway have demonstrated that by keeping away from the water’s surface with a net barrier for a day, more than 90% of salmon would jump several times through the surface in the two hours following the barrier’s removal.

In the 1990s, scientists trailed a de-lousing method where a thin layer of oil containing a sea-lice treatment chemical was added to the water’s surface in the hope that salmon would jump through and coat themselves in the treatment. However trails revealed that salmon didn’t jump frequently enough and the chemical would break down in the sunlight, rendering the method ineffective.

“In response to this problem, our study has demonstrated a way to induce salmon jumping behavior so that it is frequent and predictable, therefore ensuring the surface treatment method is effective in de-lousing salmon,” Dr Dempster said.

“Such treatment is valuable to the industry as sea lice are one of the most significant problems for the world’s salmon farmers because they cling to the skin of salmon, feeding on mucous and blood and cause painful lesions, which lead to infections and poor growth,” he said.

Sea lice populations can use farmed salmon as a breeding ground and larvae can be released into coastal waters, infecting wild salmon and trout, a process which has led to the decline of wild fish populations.

“This innovative method that is efficient and targeted can enhance the sustainability of salmon farming worldwide. As well as being cost-effective for farmers, the method also reduces chemical pollution into the ocean and maximizes welfare by minimising human intervention.”

The research is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Animal Science.

Explore further: Australian mosquito appears in California

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study shows sea lice problem widespread

Nov 09, 2010

Salmon farms are transferring parasitic sea lice to wild salmon over a much wider region than first thought. That’s the conclusion of a newly published article called Evidence of farm-induced parasite infestations on ...

Study Reveals Genetic Secrets Of Pacific Sea Louse

Apr 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sea lice found in the Pacific Ocean are very different genetically from sea lice in the Atlantic Ocean, a study team co-led by a University of Victoria researcher has found.

Recommended for you

Reducing pesticides and boosting harvests

12 hours ago

Scientists in Italy are experimenting with sound vibrations to replace pesticides. Adapting different eco-friendly methods they are able to boost harvests and open up a new chapter in sustainable farming.

Native vegetation makes a comeback on Santa Cruz Island

12 hours ago

On islands, imported plants and animals can spell ecological disaster. The Aleutians, the Galápagos, the Falklands, Hawaii, and countless other archipelagoes have seen species such as rats, goats, brown ...

Power lines offer environmental benefits

13 hours ago

Power lines, long considered eyesores or worse, a potential threat to human health, actually serve a vital role in maintaining the health of a significant population, according to new research out of the ...

User comments : 0