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GCRL Red Snapper Release
October 2000 Release

On October 3 & 4, 2000, I had the opportunity to witness the release of some of the 1800 red snapper released during the year 2000 project. The fish were released on Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks  FH-1 Site using GCRL reefs specially constructed for the purpose. Four different designs were used. A "pyramid reef" was constructed by arranging concrete blocks in pyramid form atop of a 4 X 4 pallette. A "pile" reef was formed by breaking up concrete blocks and just piling them up atop a pallette. An oyster shell reef was formed by piling oyster shells atop a pallette. And a "net reef" was formed by spreading a net across the top of some blocks.

These pictures capture in action the first ever pilot release of hatchery-reared red snapper. This work is part of a research consortium's investigation of how effective hatchery releases may be in helping to increase the red snapper catch in our fisheries. The consortium, called the Gulf of Mexico Marine Stock Enhancement Program, is funded by NOAA/NMFS. It involves the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Mississippi, The Oceanic Institute in Hawaii, and Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida; researchers from these three labs all worked together to make this release possible. Plans call for many more such pilot releases to determine effective release strategies and, eventually, monitor the contribution of hatchery fish to our local red snapper fishery. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

For information on how they were raised, see the May 1999 info page. Click on the pictures for larger images.

Support Vessels and Divers prepare to make a release.
Red Snapper suspended in a plastic bag filled with oxygen, waiting to be moved into a transport bag and eventually released onto the reef 62 feet below the surface.
Divers release red snapper unto their new home.
The red snapper quickly acclimate to their new environment.

It was encouraging to see how well the fish made use of the block holes.
The first shot here is self-Video of myself giving approval of the pyramid reef design.

The second shot shows how well the fish acclimate to this reef design.

This design was my favorite. As would be expected, the builders say it is the most difficult to implement.
Here are the other reef designs:

First the "net reef" with a pyramid reef also seen in the background. The net is suppose to help keep predators from reaching the snapper, however, predator grouper were observed under this net.

The second picture is the "pile" design. A "lane snapper", also known as a "candy-striper" is seen making residence.

The third picture is the "oyster shell" reef.