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Meet the scientist 2015



Blue Planet Aquarium, Cheshire Oaks will showcase a novel automated fish health monitor for the first time on Saturday, September 12th.

The monitor is the culmination of three years work in the laboratory of Dr Lynne Sneddon at the University of Liverpool.

A world leader in fish health and welfare, Dr Sneddon’s research aims to improve the way fish are looked after and cared for in captivity.

The Fish Health Monitor is a breakthrough in the field of fish health assessment and will alert the carer when fish are exhibiting signs of stress or ill health.

Initially the monitor is intended for use in laboratories; however Dr Sneddon also believes it has a role to play in other environments, including public aquaria.

“This development of non-invasive behavioural and physiological measurements will allow researchers and animal carers to accurately diagnose whether the fish is in ill health or stress and to intervene accordingly – it represents a major leap forward in fish welfare,” she said.

Blue Planet Aquarium curator David Wolfenden, who invited Dr Sneddon to trial the monitor at the aquarium, believes it could become an essential aid for aquarists.

“Blue Planet Aquarium houses some 4,000 fish species and we are always looking at ways to employ the latest state of the art techniques in animal health,” he said.

“The Fish Health Monitor uses two cameras, linked to a computer, to track the movements of fish in aquariums in three dimensions. Movement for healthy fish are programmed into the system, and if a fish shows deviations from these parameters the computer detects this and give a health ‘score’.

“The monitor can then alert aquarists there may be an issue, and ensure action is taken promptly. This has the potential to revolutionise the care of aquatic life in captive environments worldwide and it will be fascinating to the see the results of this first trial in a public aquarium,” he added.

Dr Lynne Sneddon, Director of Bioveterinary Science, University of Liverpool, proved fish perceive pain in 2002 and has published more than 30 articles on this subject.

As part of the event Dr Sneddon will present the fish health monitor to visitors who will also have the opportunity to talk to scientists, Drs Jon Buckley and Anthony Deakin, from the Sneddon laboratory who are conducting this important work.

The research was funded by the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs).

Issued by Blue Planet Aquarium.