This year’s red tide outbreak has left a trail of dead fish, including snook, one of the most prized catches.

Mote has an answer to ensuring the snook continue to be a prized catch.

“One of the potentially most devastating and highly visible impacts around Charlotte Harbor was to the spawning snook population,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory in a press release issued Monday from Coastal Conservation Association of Florida and Mote.

While Mote’s ongoing red tide, snook and other related research could not prevent the devastation, Mote scientists will restock juvenile snook to “specific tidal-creek ‘nurseries’ that would usually be supplied by spawning aggregations hit hard by the bloom.”

It will cost in excess of $440,000 to raise and release 10,000 hatchery-reared juvenile snook along Florida’s southwest coast. If the red tide has gone back out to sea and the coastal waters are considered safe, the juvenile snook will be released beginning in April 2019.

Mote is partnering with CCA and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

By tagging the 10-month-old juvenile snook with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags, Mote scientists expect to gain additional information. The snook will be released monthly over a two-year period.

“Ongoing studies in Sarasota County suggest that tagged, juvenile snook find some degree of refuge from red tide in tidal creek and riverine environments with fresher water less conducive to the red tide alga” which is known by its scientific term as Karina brevis.^p

“We’re looking to engage our members and the public through the creation of an Adopt-A-Snook program and the formation of additional private-nonprofit partnerships to support the program’s $440,000 price tag,” the release said.

Funding also is coming from a $9 million state grant to help local communities and businesses affected by red tide as well as Mote.

Anglers can help snook and other inshore populations by releasing their catch in support of CCA’s “Release Them For Tomorrow” campaign, CCA Florida executive director Brian Gorski said.

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