Abstract

We conducted an experiment using freshwater painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) to determine if keeping turtles out of water for an hour enhances anoxia recovery following a simulated bycatch event in nets (i.e., 12 hrs of submergence at 25°C). Traditional blood physiology measures and the novel application of a reflex impairment index (e.g., responses to gravity, light, and tactile stimuli) indicated that keeping turtles in or out of water for an hour did not yield a significant improvement in anoxia recovery; however, when the majority of reflexes are impaired, in particular the tactile response (e.g., limb movements), it appears that assisted recovery (keeping turtles out of water) can reduce the chance of postrelease mortality. The use of the reflex impairment index is a simple and inexpensive way to determine turtle bycatch condition after submergence in nets and discern whether assisted recovery may be required.

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