Ultrasound examination and behavior scoring of captive broadnose sevengill sharks, Notorynchus cepedianus (Peron, 1807)

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Abstract

Serial ultrasound examination of four mature female sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) was carried out over 18 months. Monitoring the reproductive cycle and development of follicles and fetuses in sharks in a noninvasive manner using this technique has not been reported previously. Sharks were caught out of the “Oceanarium” tank by divers using a specially made catch-out bag, and brought to a holding area for examination. A behavior scoring system was used to monitor the impact of regular handling on the well-being of the animals. Ultrasound showed the growth and regression of follicles in sevengill ovaries, and allowed an approximation of the reproductive stage of these sharks. Monitoring behavior at five time points during the procedure showed that regular handling of sharks for clinical studies could be done with minimal impact on animal welfare. The ability to follow reproductive events in elasmobranches using ultrasonography is an important step in the application of assisted reproductive technology in these species. Assisted reproductive technology, such as monitoring female reproductive cycles and artificial insemination, could potentially be used to maintain genetic diversity and compliment aquaria-based breeding programs for endangered species such as the gray nurse shark (Carcharias taurus). Zoo Biol 26:383–395, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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