Over 60,000 seatrout found a new home in coastal waters today as part of a scheduled release.
With the flip of a switch, thousands of fish now have a new home on the Coast. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Laboratory released 67,000 juvenile spotted seatrout into coastal waters in Ocean Springs.
After collecting data and letting seatrout get acclimated to the water, scientists turned on the pumps and let the seatrout flow into Davis Bayou.
Angelos Apeitos with USM’s School of Ocean Science and Engineering says USM raises schools of spotted seatrout at their marine aquaculture center until it is time to release. “We take a multidisciplinary approach to, you know, managing our program. We track genetics, we track diseases, we have a stock of seatrout that’s able to spawn year round, so we can conduct our research at the time of the year that we don’t need to be concerned with releasing fish into the wild.”
Since the program’s start in 2004, 1.6 million seatrout have been released at locations in Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis and have seen success adjusting to these waters. “They start chasing prey items that they would naturally chase if they were born in the wild to begin with.”
With the seatrout population and Coast waters recovering from the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening, this regularly-scheduled release provided a boost to the local population. “With technology like this and the tools we have at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, we’re able to kick production and help the fishery recover, help the natural process in other ways.”
Life Support System Specialist Andrew Gima says it is rewarding to see their hard work become a reality. “Anytime you can see one of our products get released and out of our facility, it’s definitely a good feeling inside when you’ve raised something from very small to its release point.”