CAN FISH “GROW” AFTER DYING?

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Since Ang and Pete seem forever interested in all things biology when it comes to fish and fishing, we thought we’d take our popular Fish Talk With The Doc segment from our podcast and television show, and include it on our website as well.

Here we’ll take questions from either our two Fish’n Canada hosts or, better yet you, our endearing fans, and get first-hand answers from some of the most trusted authorities in the scientific community like Fisheries Biologists, Aquaculture Engineers, Fish Farm Technicians, and so on.

So fire away with any technical questions that you feel a biologist, engineer or technician would love to dig into and if you’re lucky, your question will be featured in this section of the site.

You can reach us through our Outdoor Journal Radio podcast in the comments section, or The Fish’n Canada Show through our email at [email protected] 

BTW, we absolutely love it when the audience participates in a Q&A style of conversation… So let’s go!


To start out this “Fish Talk With The Doc” section of the Fish’n Canada website, we had a question from a television fan whom we met at the Toronto Sportsman Show. The following was a portion of the conversation:

QUESTION FROM PETE, ANG & “JOE” TO DR. STEVEN COOKE 

Hi Steven

We recently had an interesting talk with a fan on a couple of issues, one of which we instantly thought of you. He said that a fish’s length can increase after it dies due to the muscles relaxing. So, if a fish was “just” under a size limit alive, with his theory, it could be over the size limit after sitting dead for some time.

Any validity to this?

Thanks in advance,

ANSWER FROM DR STEVEN COOKE:

Hi Guys – It is more likely that when a fish dies it shrinks and we have science on that.  This is a good summary of a scientific article about shrinkage…  https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/hooklinescience/do-fish-shrink-after-they-die/#:~:text=Scientists%20have%20long%20known%20that%20fish%20can%20shrink%20after%20death

- You mean shrinkage. - Yes.

And there are lots more such studies.

There are some stories about fish getting longer while held in livewells with some reference to a study by Ohio DNR all I can find is a summary and not the original science to assess.  https://targetwalleye.com/fish-lengthen-in-wells-donkeys-of-the-week-when-to-use-noise/  So – It seems they MAY grow in a livewell but that is only if alive.  If you kill them, they will almost surely shrink.  

The point is – that depending on context, a fish may get a little longer or a little shorter.  Most COs will use their discretion with fish measurements.  

SJC

Outdoor Journal Radio

Outdoor Journal Radio is Canada’s award-nominated and highest-ranking wilderness podcast. Drawing from their experience as two of Canada’s most prominent outdoor personalities, hosts Angelo Viola and Peter Bowman explore the environmental topics, issues, and events that matter to the everyday outdoorsman. Joined by a wide variety of guests, ODJ Radio seeks to answer the questions and tell the stories of all those who enjoy being outside.

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