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David Sparks Ph.d Catch and Release
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Sportsman's Spotlight
Date: October 16, 2018

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Anglers don’t expect to take home dinner when they practice catch-and-release fishing, but they might not be the only ones missing out on a meal. In a study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, a UC Riverside-led research team shows that mouth injuries caused by hook removal after catch-and-release fishing hamper the ability of fish to capture prey. The results add to a growing body of literature raising questions about the practice of catch-and release fishing, which is viewed by many as a way to conserve at-risk fish species.

Tim Higham, an associate professor in UCR’s Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, studies the biomechanics and hydrodynamics of suction feeding, which is the way many recreational sport fish species — including bass, salmon, and trout — eat.

During suction feeding, fish rapidly expand their mouths to suck in prey. This generates negative pressure inside the mouth relative to the surrounding water. Suction feeding relies on the resulting pressure gradient to draw prey into the mouth. Higham and his colleagues wondered if an extra hole, caused by hook removal, might disrupt the system.

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