Reflex impairment and physiology as predictors of delayed mortality in recreationally caught yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus)

Francesca C. Forrestal, M. Danielle McDonald, Georgianna Burress, David J. Die

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) is an important part of the reef fish assemblage in the western, tropical Atlantic and is caught by both recreational and commercial fisheries in south Florida and the Bahamas. It is estimated that 80% of snapper caught within southeastern Florida waters are discarded due to minimum size restrictions. Neglecting to include information on delayed mortality of undersized fish has the potential for fishery managers to overestimate the abundance of smaller size classes and introduce bias into stock assessments. This study examines associations between reflex impairment, traditional physiological parameters and post-release mortality of undersized yellowtail snapper. Laboratory experiments exposed yellowtail snapper to a gradient, simulating capture conditions. Blood draws were obtained from a sub-sample of fish. There was a significant relationship between delayed mortality and the proportion of reflex impairment for both individual fish and groups of fish (P < 0.001 and P = 0.03). Within the sub-sample of blood-sampled fish, base excess and pH were significantly correlated to reflex impairment. Delayed mortality was significantly correlated to pH, base excess and lactate concentration. Results suggest that discarded, undersized yellowtail with more than 29% of their reflexes impaired will not survive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Delayed mortality
  • I-Stat
  • Post-release survival
  • Reflex impairment
  • Yellowtail snapper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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