• Biofouling of the hydroid Ectopleura larynx on aquaculture nets in Ireland: implications for finfish health

      Baxter, E.J.; Sturt, M.M.; Ruane, N.M.; Doyle, T.K.; McAllen, R.; Rodger, H.D. (Fish Veterinary Society, 2012)
      The potential direct health problems posed to marine-farmed salmonids by the biofouling hydroid Ectopleura larynx (Phylum Cnidaria, Class Hydrozoa) and in situ net washing processes to remove the fouling organisms have not yet been addressed. In an attempt to address the possible impacts, the rate of E. larynx growth on aquaculture nets over a net-cleaning cycle was assessed and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts were exposed to hydroid-biofouled nets under experimental challenge. After only 1 week of immersion, there was a high settlement of E. larynx on net panels, with the maximum growth observed after 3 week of immersion. For the challenges trials, experimental treatment groups of S. salar were exposed to hydroid net panels or loose hydroid material for 11 hours under controlled conditions. Gills were examined for signs of gross damage and assigned a histopathological gill score. Prior to the experiment, the gills were healthy and did not show signs of damage from any insult. After exposure to E. larynx, focal areas of epithelial sloughing, necrosis and haemorrhage were visible on the gills under histopathology and a maximum gill score of 4 was observed. These results are the first in an investigation of this kind and suggest that E. larynx can damage the gills of S. salar. Further work on this area is vital to develop a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the damage caused by hydroids and their long-term effects on fish health, growth and survival.
    • Gill damage to Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) caused by the common jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) under experimental challenge

      Baxter, E.J.; Sturt, M.M.; Ruane, N.M.; Doyle, T.K.; McAllen, R.; Harman, L.; Rodger, H.D. (PLoS ONE, 2011)
      Background: Over recent decades jellyfish have caused fish kill events and recurrent gill problems in marine-farmed salmonids. Common jellyfish (Aurelia spp.) are among the most cosmopolitan jellyfish species in the oceans, with populations increasing in many coastal areas. The negative interaction between jellyfish and fish in aquaculture remains a poorly studied area of science. Thus, a recent fish mortality event in Ireland, involving Aurelia aurita, spurred an investigation into the effects of this jellyfish on marine-farmed salmon. Methodology/Principal Findings: To address the in vivo impact of the common jellyfish (A. aurita) on salmonids, we exposed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts to macerated A. aurita for 10 hrs under experimental challenge. Gill tissues of control and experimental treatment groups were scored with a system that rated the damage between 0 and 21 using a range of primary and secondary parameters. Our results revealed that A. aurita rapidly and extensively damaged the gills of S. salar, with the pathogenesis of the disorder progressing even after the jellyfish were removed. After only 2 hrs of exposure, significant multi-focal damage to gill tissues was apparent. The nature and extent of the damage increased up to 48 hrs from the start of the challenge. Although the gills remained extensively damaged at 3 wks from the start of the challenge trial, shortening of the gill lamellae and organisation of the cells indicated an attempt to repair the damage suffered. Conclusions: Our findings clearly demonstrate that A. aurita can cause severe gill problems in marine-farmed fish. With aquaculture predicted to expand worldwide and evidence suggesting that jellyfish populations are increasing in some areas, this threat to aquaculture is of rising concern as significant losses due to jellyfish could be expected to increase in the future.