Remote Chemical Immobilization of Large Fish
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Matthew S. Runnells1, CVT; Natalie D. Mylniczenko2, DVM, MS, DACZM
1Sea Turtle Healing Center, Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, FL, USA; 2Department of Animal Health, Disney’s Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives, Bay Lake, FL, USA


The challenges associated with remote chemical immobilization of shark and teleost species in large aquaria continue to be an ongoing problem. Other than the typical terrestrial dart administration challenges, factors such as depth (pressure), salinity, turbidity, and temperature play a great role. At Disney’s Living Seas with Nemo and Friends, two dart delivery tools have been modified to address these issues. First, a pole syringe was created using a lightweight aluminum shaft with modifications using Cap-Chur equipment (Palmer Cap-Chur Inc., Powder Springs, GA, USA) that fit DANINJECT darts (DANINJECT of North America, Knoxville, TN, USA). Secondly, a speargun (Mares, was modified by decreasing the pressurized chamber to allow a slower discharge of the spear shaft and adjustments of this shaft with Cap-Chur equipment facilitated use of DANINJECT darts. Initial results proved the pole syringe to be very successful above and under water. With the underwater dart gun, there was limited success. Initial tests at less than 10 feet underwater indicated high velocity, thus prompting modifications to the pressurized chamber; however, at nearly an atmosphere of depth, the discharge pressure of the speargun was too low, thus only good for dart placement when the target was within 6 feet of the darter. Continued modifications are being made to adjust for depth and adequate pressure of the gun to safely place divers from the target animal. The pole syringe modifications have streamlined current successful darting, and with further underwater dart gun modifications, successful deep-water darting will be likely.


The authors wish to extend a special thanks to Brian Harvey (Fugu Fisheries Ltd., Victoria, BC) and to the aquarium staff at Disney’s The Living Seas with Nemo and Friends.


Speaker Information
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Matthew S. Runnells, CVT
Sea Turtle Healing Center
Brevard Zoo
Melbourne, FL, USA

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