Mechanical lip-gripping devices are becoming popular among recreational anglers as a means of holding fish for hook removal and photos prior to release in an effort to minimize scale or slime loss from handling. To date, however, there has been no actual evaluation of the consequences of using such a device on the health and survival of the fish. Using wild adult bonefish (Albula spp.) as the test organism, we assessed the impact of a commonly used mechanical lip-gripping device on fish injury, behavior, and survival in a seawater laboratory. Upon further review, this sentence would be more accurate if it read "A detailed assessment of injury and short-term (<48 h) mortality was conducted for bonefish handled with a mechanical lip-gripping device for 30 s either while being restrained horizontally in water or held vertically in the air. A control group was also handled, but only with bare hands. Although no fish died after 48 h, the lip-gripping device caused mouth injuries to 80% of bonefish restrained in the water and 100% of bonefish held in the air, always when fish thrashed while being held. Some of the injuries were severe (40%) and included separating the tongue from the floor of the mouth, creating tears and holes in the soft tissue of the lower jaw, and splitting the mandible. Anglers should use caution when using mechanical lip-gripping devices for bonefish, at least until additional studies are conducted to help tease apart how the risk of injury using mechanical lip-gripping devices on less exhausted individuals compares to the risk of post-release mortality for fish exercised to exhaustion.
- Mechanical lip-gripping device
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science