Mature, wild sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) demonstrated their remarkable stamina and recovery abilities by performing three consecutive critical swimming speed tests with only a 45 min interval for recovery between subsequent tests. Although the repeated swimming challenges were performed without a full recovery, normoxic fish swam just as well on the second swim, and the majority of fish swam only marginally more poorly on the third swim. In addition, metabolic loading in these fish, as measured by the rate of oxygen consumption, ventilation rate and plasma lactate levels during recovery, did not appear to be cumulative with successive swims. Fish, however, did not recover as well after a similar level of initial swimming performance under moderately hypoxic conditions (water PO2>100 mmHg; 1 mmHg=0.1333 kPa). Four out of the five fish did not swim again and their high plasma lactate levels indicated a greater anaerobic effort. In another group of fish, metabolic loading (elevated control rates of oxygen consumption) was induced with an overnight sublethal exposure to pentachlorophenol, but these fish swam as well as normoxic fish on the first swim, and five of the six fish swam for a third time at a marginally lower critical swimming speed. In contrast to expectations, pentachlorophenol pretreatment and moderate hypoxia were not additive in their effects. Instead, the effects resembled those of pentachlorophenol pretreatment alone. The results are discussed in terms of what aspects of fatigue might impair the repeat swimming performance of sockeye salmon.

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