When researching fish populations, we have to track the health of many fish. Many traditional fish sampling techniques require scientists to kill the fish in order to obtain the necessary data.


Sacrificing large numbers of fish can affect fish populations. This can skew results when we are researching populations. As scientists, we do not want to be an impact when attempting to measure impacts. More to the point, it is inhumane and can mostly be avoided.

Researchers are exploring how we can use mucus to assess the health of fish populations—a measure that would not require sacrificing them.


In 2016, IISD Experimental Lakes Area, in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan, began a program to assess the effectiveness of non-lethal indicators of fish health for biological monitoring programs.   This project is working to examine the utility of measuring biomarkers in mucus as non-lethal measures of general stress in fish. Additionally, mucus will be screened, using a targeted proteomics approach, for other proteins that can be used as diagnostic indicators of contaminant specific stress.


You can read more about this project in this blog post.


This research is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan.