HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Richard Spieler

Second Advisor

Richard E. Dodge

Third Advisor

Robert Hueter

Fourth Advisor

Charles Manire


Previous research has indicated species-specific stress responses in sharks. To assess the biochemical effects of net capture and restraint, nineteen serum constituents were measured in three species of sharks: bonnethead, Sphyrna tiburo (Linnaeus, 1758), n = 36; blacktip, Carcharhinus limbatus (Muller and Henle, 1841), n = 33; and bull, C. leucas (Muller and Henle, 1841), n = 27. Sharks were captured in gill nets placed at various locations along the southwest coast of Florida between April and July, 1994. Stress level of each animal was judged in five categories using an index of behavioral response to capture and restraint devised for use in tag-recapture studies. These categories ranged from level I "minimal stress response" to level 5 "moribund or dead". The serum constituents assayed included: glucose, creatinine, uric acid, sodium, chloride, potassium, inorganic phosphorus, total and ionized calcium, total protein, albumin, globulin, alkaline phosphatase, lactate, lactate dehydrogenase; aspartate aminotransferase, triglycerides, cholesterol, and total iron. Hematocrit was also measured for each sample.

There were significant intraspecific differences in several serum constituent values for all three species. With increased stress, S. tiburo had increased potassium, inorganic phosphorus, uric acid, alkaline phosphatase and lactate and decreased glucose levels (P < 0.05 ANOVA or Kruskal-Wallis). C. limbatus had increased uric acid, potassium, lactate, total and ionized calcium, inorganic phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase (P < 0.05), while C. leucas had increased potassium, inorganic phosphorus, aspartate aminotransferase, lactate and decreased glucose levels (P < 0.05). The wide variation observed in serum constituent values among species when compared with intraspecific differences in lifestyle, behavior, general morphology and environmental requirements may help explain differences in species-specific mortality rates previously documented.

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