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GCRL Red Snapper Cultivation

On May 20, 1999, I visited the Gulf Coast Research Lab to learn about their current project of raising red snapper to eventually be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. These capturing and spawning operations are done in collaboration with the Claude Poteet Mariculture Center of the Alabama Department of Natural Resources in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They are catching red snapper via a charter boat out of Alabama. Females are injected with a hormone to accelerate the release of eggs. Males are used to fertilize the eggs and cause them to hatch into larvae. Holding tanks are used to cultivate the larvae to a thumbnail size when they will be transferred to a larger tank. Eventually, at about 6 months of age, they will be released into the Gulf onto artificial reefs. The Study won't stop there. They will then determine if the fish stay and survive.

One of their challenges is to raise a proper plankton to feed the larvae. Many plankton can actually feed on the red snapper larvae! Others have no nutritional value and lead to increased mortality.

Be sure and visit the October 1999 Update and the October 2000 Update for information on their release. Below are some of the pictures I took of their project. Click on the pictures for larger images.

Amber Garber (foreground) and Casey Nicholson discuss the release of the red snapper larvae into the holding tanks. About 10,000 larvae are suspended in 17 Litres of water in each box and are released into the larger holding tanks on the left. holding tanks
Red Snapper Larvae and Eggs are seen suspended in this beaker of water.
Casey Nicholson (foreground) and Dr. Jeff Lotz release larvae into the first holding tank.
John Ogle documents the data while Casey Nicholson releases more red snapper larvae.
After about a month, the larvae grow to thumbnail size and are ready to be moved into these larger holding tanks.
These tanks hold adult female and male red snapper while spawning is induced. They weren't needed on this trip, because spawning was induced right on the charter boat!
Water is pumped from the Mississippi Sound into this holding pond. The water is strained for plankton that is fed to the red snapper larvae.