The aquadome was filled with commotion and organized chaos — it was time to tag the snook! We had a table set up right in the middle of the room with two people measuring our aquacultured common snook, two people weighing them, two people documenting the data and the tag numbers, and two Mote Marine Laboratory scientists surgically implanting the rice-grain-sized tags. Aquaculture, or breeding and growing fish in a controlled environment, has been a part of the Riverview Aquadome since 2015. Every year, we start a new batch of common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) that are released into our neck of Philippi Creek behind the school grounds when they are big enough to survive in the wild. This program is incredibly beneficial to Florida’s ecosystem because our snook populations are quite delicate. Especially in the wake of our recent red tide, the common snook populations in the Gulf need replenishing.
That’s where the aquadome and the RHS students come in. Over 350 of our students helped to tag over 400 aquacultured snook in one day! The snook were first put into a solution that rendered them catatonic, so that we could measure, weigh, and tag the snook without stressing the fish. Each of the fish were measured by a student and weighed by another student before handed over to the Mote staff. It was an amazing way to get our student body involved in real life research and ecological restoration!
After the snook were successfully tagged, a veterinarian checked them over for signs of disease or stress, and our juvenile C. undecimalis were released into Philippi Creek. Every time one of the tagged fish swims through the Creek behind RHS, the electromagnetic tracker sends a “ping” to receiver on shore. Each “ping” sends data about the individual fish to a black box that rests on a platform near the edge of Philippi Creek. This information is still raw, and has not been used in any research projects, but the author is hopeful that this will change in the near future.
We will continue to research and restore our common snook populations, but not without your help! If you want to see this program continue and expand, make sure to visit the Donate tab and show your support!
RHS, Class of ’21
Collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory