Fish in the family Lepisosteidae (hereafter, gars) have unique ganoid scales that pose inherent challenges to implanting electronic tags in their coeloms for telemetry studies. In this paper we outline a unique approach to conducting laparotomic surgery in gars, with a focus on the Longnose Gar Lepisosteus osseus. An electric rotary tool with a circular cutting blade was used to cut through the scales, and the same tool, with a drill bit, was used to create holes through which to run the suture material. The final incision into the body cavity was made with a scalpel, and the incision was expanded using surgical scissors. Using a passive acoustic telemetry array, the survival of 12 of 15 tagged Longnose Gars was confirmed over a 123-d period based on their detection at receivers outside of their areas of capture and release. Two individuals were recaptured 17-19 weeks postsurgery and showed complete healing of the wounds with limited evidence of scarring. This approach will allow for the long-term tagging and tracking of gars to help elucidate their ecology.

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Journal Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Midwood, J.D. (Jonathan D.), Reddick, D.T. (David T.), Brooks, J.L. (Jill L.), Boston, C. (Christine), Doka, S.E. (Susan E.), & Cooke, S.J. (2018). Intracoelomic Implantation of Transmitters in Longnose Gar. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. doi:10.1002/tafs.10044