Location: Simons IMAX Theatre

Fish Blowing Up? Handling Barotrauma in the Gulf of Maine

Matt Ayer, Recreational Fisheries Biologist, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Barotrauma is an injury caused by a change in gas pressure. In many fish species, barotrauma occurs when the swim bladder expands or ruptures as fish are brought to the water’s surface. In the recreational groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine, there are multiple species that exhibit signs of barotrauma when caught. In some cases, these symptoms can be severe and significantly increase the mortality of discarded fish. One method of increasing the survival of released groundfish is to assist their descent and recompression using a “release device.” Such devices are commonly used in other parts of the country, but have been only recently introduced to Gulf of Maine anglers. Learn from recreational fisheries biologist Matt Ayer about fish filled with air and how anglers may be able to help them.