Prevalence of spinal abnormalities in Chinook salmon smolt and influence of early rearing temperature and growth rates

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John Wiley and Sons, Ltd
Spinal abnormalities can be detected at harvest in around 40% of farmed Chinook salmon in New Zealand. However, whether these abnormalities are present in smolt is unknown. Radiographs of 3,736 smolt were taken immediately prior to transfer to sea water and evaluated for fusions, compressions, vertical shifts, and lordosis, kyphosis and/or scoliosis (LKS). The survey included smolt from two different chilling strategies that had been graded into slow- or fast-growing fish. Overall, 4.34% of Chinook salmon smolt had at least one spinal abnormality, similar to the rates of reported in Atlantic salmon smolt. The rate of abnormality was significantly higher in faster-growing fish. Fusions were most common with 2.68% of smolt affected. Smolt subjected to longer chilling times had lower rates of fusions. Compressions and vertical shifts were both observed in 1.31% of smolt. Although LKS is the most common abnormality of harvested fish, LKS was detected in just five smolt. The results suggest that some fusions in harvest fish have developed at the time of seawater transfer while LKS develops late in the production cycle. Overall, spinal abnormalities are uncommon in Chinook salmon smolt and may be influenced by chilling times and growth rates.
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Munday, J. S., et al. (2018). "Prevalence of spinal abnormalities in Chinook salmon smolt and influence of early rearing temperature and growth rates." Journal of Fish Diseases 41(7): 1111-1116, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
Chinook, fusion, radiography, Salmon, smolt, spinal abnormality
JOURNAL OF FISH DISEASES, 2018, 41 (7), pp. 1111 - 1116