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Bonefish spawned in captivity

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A team of US researchers has spawned bonefish in captivity for the first time.

THE Bonefish Restoration Research Project, a major initiative sponsored by Bonefish and Tarpon Trust in the USA, has successfully induced spawning of wild bonefish and hatched the fertilised eggs into larvae. This is a first for this species, and a major step in the organisation’s efforts to spawn and raise bonefish in captivity.

The project, which is based at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, achieved this milestone during field experiments earlier this month in the Bahamas. A team led by Dr Jon Shenker and Dr Paul Wills successfully used reproductive hormone injections to induce mature eggs in a female that had been captured from the wild in a pre-spawning state of development. The female was strip spawned and the eggs fertilised by a strip spawned male, which resulted approximately 24 hours later in live bonefish larvae.

“We now know that we can get bonefish to spawn in captivity,” said Dr. Shenker. “This will help us optimise methods to induce spawning of fish brought in from the natural habitat and to spawn fish maintained for a long time in a controlled aquaculture facility. Our newly-hatched larvae will also enable us to start learning how to culture these very unusual larvae.”

“Observations of development and behaviour of bonefish larvae will also indicate critical habitat and larval drift characteristics needed for refining oceanic models of larval dispersal,” added Dr. Paul Wills. “We are gaining a wealth of information about the biology of this species from this one successful spawn and future spawns will only yield more.”

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