Capture and handling stress affects the endocrine and ovulatory response to exogenous hormone treatment in snapper, Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider).
Sexually mature female hatchery-reared snapper, Pagrus auratus (Bloch & Schneider) were captured from sea cages by handline and injected at first capture (control) or 24 h after capture, transport and subsequent confinement (delayed injection) with either saline, luteinizing hormone releasing hormone analogue, human chorionic gonadotropin, or 17a-hydroxyprogesterone. Blood was sampled before hormone treatment and again after 168 h, and fish were checked daily for ovulation. Plasma levels of 17߭estradiol (E2), testosterone (T), 17a, 20ߠdihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (17, 20ߐ) and cortisol were determined by radioimmunoassay. The ovulatory response was assessed from the proportion of fish ovulating, ovulation volume, egg quality and fertility. A delay in injection resulted in significantly lower plasma E2 and T levels in response to hormone treatment, smaller ovulation volumes, and poorer egg quality than in control fish. The results are consistent with the generally inhibitory effects of stress on reproduction in fish, and confirm the requirement to treat fish with hormones designed to induce ovulation, as soon as possible after capture and disturbance.