Exophthalmia in wild-caught cod (Gadus morhua L.): development of a secondary barotrauma effect in captivity. Humborstad, O., B., Ferter, K., Kryvi, H., & Fjelldal, P., G. Journal of Fish Diseases, 40(1):41-49, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1, 2017.
Exophthalmia in wild-caught cod (Gadus morhua L.): development of a secondary barotrauma effect in captivity [pdf]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
Capture-based aquaculture (CBA) of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) has become increasingly important in recent years, and increased attention is being paid to animal welfare issues linked to these activities. Earlier studies showed that some cod develop secondary exophthalmia in captivity. This study investigated the development of secondary exophthalmia in two groups of wild-caught cod, one of which was exposed to rapid decompression causing acute barotrauma (treatment group) while the other was not (control group). Photographs and radiographs before and up to 33 days after barotrauma revealed a significant increase in overall eye protrusion caused by an accumulation of gas in the orbita in the treatment group, first observed on day 9 after decompression, while no protrusions were observed in the control group. Barotrauma was thus identified as an important trigger for the development of secondary uni- or bilateral exophthalmia of wild-caught cod. Two underlying mechanisms are suggested, where the more likely is residual swim bladder gas taking the route of least resistance, while the less likely is the exsolution of gas from the blood. Our results have implications for a wide range of contexts in which cod are rapidly brought to the surface from great depth.

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