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The Gloves are... on: PNNL Tests Fish Immobilization Gloves

Smith-Root gloves use electricity to temporarily immobilize fish and avoid sedation

September 2015
PNNL Tests Fish Immobilization Gloves
SULI student Elizabeth Cipriani uses the Fish Handling Gloves to immobilize a lamprey.
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Fish. They're slippery. They also wiggle a lot. So handling them to conduct tests, insert tags, sort, or in some instances even move them is a process in itself. Typically, researchers rely on sedating fish, using a dose of chemical anesthetic to stop a fish from flopping about. While chemical anesthetics are effective sedatives, the process takes time and requires fish to be held for 21 days before reintroducing specimens to the wild.

But what if there was a way to handle fish quickly and effectively? Enter the Smith-Root Handling Gloves, a portable system that uses a small electric current to temporarily immobilize fish. The system works by running an electrical current through cotton gloves woven with a metal thread; completing the circuit when the user picks up a fish.

As part of DOE's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program, University of Delaware undergraduate student Elizabeth Cipriani worked with PNNL researcher Alison Colotelo to study the gloves and determine the viability of Smith-Root's product in handling fish. Cipriani tested the gloves and found them effective for temporarily immobilizing Pacific lamprey, rainbow trout, and sub-adult white sturgeon.

By conducting the analysis, PNNL offers a third-party assessment on the effectiveness of the gloves, allowing Smith-Root to move forward with confidence in supplying other research institutions, hatcheries, etc. with a new tool to safely handle fish.

"Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists produce objective, credible research results that inform government agencies and private industry," said Patrick Cooney, certified fisheries scientist and Director of Electrofishing Science at Smith-Root. "Specifically, PNNL scientifically assessed Smith-Root's new Electric Fish Handling Gloves and produced immediately relevant results for the entire fisheries science community."

Read more about the handling gloves on Smith-Root's website.

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