December 20, 2014  

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Sea Trout That Survived Harsh Winter to be Tagged and Released

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Approximately 5,000 juvenile spotted seatrout have been tagged and released this week in a joint effort by the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. (Submitted photo)

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) at The University of Southern Mississippi, along with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR), will be releasing approximately 5,000 juvenile spotted seatrout this week, which have been reared in ponds at the Lyman Fish Hatchery.

These particular fish have been at the hatchery since November and will be tagged and released in two batches this week. With the unusually harsh winter that South Mississippi experienced, the survival of these trout is remarkable.

Special adaptations were made to the holding ponds to help the fish make it through the frosty months. Sections of the ponds were “curtained” off and sheltered from the weather. The water in these sections was warmed either by a geothermal well on the property which heats the water to temperatures in the 70’s, or by aerating the water with heated air. Through a combination of these methods, the fish managed to survive. These are not the first fish to “overwinter” in ponds at the hatchery, but they are the first to survive such a harsh winter there.

The first batch of trout was tagged on Monday, May 19 and released at the GCRL harbor. The second batch will be tagged today (May 22) and released in Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs.

This work was accomplished as part of the SPEC (Seatrout Population Enhancement Cooperative) and is a continuing example of the partnership between GCRL and MDMR with the support of the Coast Conservation Association to advance the science of stock enhancement in Mississippi.

To learn more about GCRL, call 228.872.4200 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/