Mapping the Energetic Costs of Free-Swimming Gilthead Sea Bream (Sparus aurata), a Key Species in European Marine Aquaculture

Acoustic telemetry Sea bream MO2 Ucrit Electromyogram Metabolic cost Welfare monitoring Aquaculture


Measurement of metabolic rates provides a valuable proxy for the energetic costs of different living activities. However, such measurements are not easy to perform in free-swimming fish. Therefore, mapping acceleration from accelerometer tags with oxygen consumption rates (MO2) is a promising method to counter these limitations and could represent a tool for remotely estimating MO2 in aquaculture environments. In this study, we monitored the swimming performance and MO2 of 79 gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata; weight range, 219–971 g) during a critical swimming test. Among all the fish challenged, 27 were implanted with electromyography (EMG) electrodes, and 27 were implanted with accelerometer tags to monitor the activation pattern of the red/white muscles during swimming. Additionally, we correlated the acceleration recorded by the tag with the MO2. Overall, we found no significant differences in swimming performance, metabolic traits, and swimming efficiency between the tagged and untagged fish. The acceleration recorded by the tag was successfully correlated with MO2. Additionally, through EMG analyses, we determined the activities of the red and white muscles, which are indicative of the contributions of aerobic and anaerobic metabolisms until reaching critical swimming speed. By obtaining insights into both aerobic and anaerobic metabolisms, sensor mapping with physiological data may be useful for the purposes of aquaculture health/welfare remote monitoring of the gilthead sea bream, a key species in European marine aquaculture.