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University of Florida Fish Vet Finds Her Niche In The Tank

FLORIDA - For a woman who cures sick fish, you might not expect one of her favorite foods to come from the sea.

"I love sushi," said Denise Petty as she sliced near the backbone of a sick trout that had arrived at her lab that morning in a duct-taped Coleman cooler packed with ice.

Petty, 50, is an extension veterinarian for the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida; in essence she is a fish vet.

"Fish are my obsession," Petty said. Petty's main focus at UF is on the fish industry, which is susceptible to any number of nature's concoctions. More than 50 diseases cause more than $100 million in annual losses in the United States alone.

Farm-raised fish are more than a $1 billion-a-year industry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And globally, the fish-farming industry provides about one-third of the fish people consume.