Seventeen Gulf of Mexico sturgeons (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) underwent endoscopic sex determination, gonadal biopsy, and various reproductive surgeries as part of a conservation development plan. The fish were anesthetized with tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222) buffered with sodium bicarbonate and maintained on a recirculating water anesthesia circuit. A 6-mm Ternamian EndoTip Cannula, placed through the ventral midline, midway between pectoral and pelvic fins, permitted the introduction of a 5-mm telescope. Swim bladder aspiration and CO2 insufflation of the coelomic cavity provided excellent observation. Second and third cannulae were placed under direct visual control, lateral and cranial or caudal to the telescope cannula. Sex determination was successfully performed in all fish; however, five of 17 sturgeons (29%) required endoscopic gonadal biopsy to confirm sex. Bilateral ovariectomy or orchidectomy was successfully performed in three males and four females. Unilateral ovariectomy and bilateral ligation of the müllerian ducts using an extracorporeal suturing technique was accomplished in an additional three females. No apparent morbidity was associated with the anesthesia or endoscopic surgery in any fish. The ability to safely perform minimally invasive reproductive surgery in fish may have important management and conservation benefits.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4