CCA Florida, FWC and Mote Marine have partnered together to help rebuild the Snook population after the 2017-2018 Red Tide epidemic on the west coast of Florida. Ingman Marine’s team works with local conservation organizations to help protect our local waterways and coastline. Mike Brimer, our Placida Location Manager and Lead Sales Manager, joined the initiative.
With the partnership of The CCA Florida (Coastal Conservation Association of Florida), The FFC (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) and Mote Marine Laboratories, the Snook population should hopefully bounce back after several more years. In September of 2018, it was announced that this Snook repopulation initiative would begin. Ingman Marine’s own Mike Brimer joined the movement in April 2019 as the scheduled Snook release approached. Mike helped tag the juvenile Snook, along with many other helpful volunteers, so Mote Marine Laboratories scientists could monitor the progress.
Florida Red Tide Bloom
Florida’s Gulf Coast was hit hard with one of its longest bout of Red Tide to date. This bloom lasted from late 2017 to early 2019. The beaches, sea life and ocean were impacted greatly by this outbreak. The Snook population was especially hit hard on our local southwest Florida coast. In June and July of 2018, many of the spawning Snook in the Port Charlotte waters were killed off by the Red Tide bloom. Many of these fish were holding eggs. Those fish would have continued the next generation of Snook population for Port Charlotte Punta Gorda, North Fort Myers, Placida, Boca Grande, Englewood and all of Charlotte Harbor.
The 2017, 2018 and 2019 Florida Red Tide bloom has been one of the longest running Red Tide blooms ever seen in the United States, let alone Florida. Generally Red Tide blooms lasts for a few days, possibly up to a few months. The average Red Tide normally happens annually around the late summer to early fall (August and September). Unfortunately, the Snook population was not the only local aquatic species to be affected; this bloom killed a large population of Sea Turtles, Manatees, many other fish species and marine life. Another notable fish population that was affected were the Red Drum, or Redfish. The CCA, FWC and Duke Energy have teamed up to help rebuild that fishery as well.
2019 Snook Restocking
From start to finish, this Snook initiative will take approximately 2 years. The journey began thanks to the work of the Mote Marine Laboratories team. Mote oversaw the breeding and raising of over 10,000 baby Snook. Mote’s Aquaculture Park spawned these Snook in October of 2018. They remained at the Mote’s facilities until they were about 8-10 months old. Once large enough to tag, and with a greater chance of survival, they were released into designated waterways along the southwest Florida coast.
The scientists at Mote Marine Labs selected various specific tidal creeks for these releases. These areas are known to the researchers as recurring spawning locations. Additional studies have proven that 10-month-old Snook can eventually double in population when added to underutilized ‘nursery’ habitats. The releases are only completed once these designated areas are determined to be clear and safe. With the help of the CCA, FWC and Community volunteers, Mote will continue to release Snook at opportune times for spawning and simple restocking.
The start of the tagging process for the hatchery-reared Snook began in April 2019 and continued through June 2019. Mike Brimer joined other volunteers, the CCA and the Mote scientists to help with the initiative. The volunteers aided in measuring, weighing and tagging the juvenile Snook. The Snook had to be approximately 4 inches in length to end up with a tag. Each Snook will be tagged with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT). PIT tags help scientists track individual fish by providing a reliable ‘barcode’ for each Snook tagged.
In May of 2019 and June 2019, the waters of Ainger Creek and Tippecanoe Environmental Park in Charlotte County received approximately 1,500 tagged Snook. Donors who have already adopted a Snook will be updated on the progress of their fish by using the PIT tags. These tags will relay important info to Mote Marines Scientists through 2021.
Catching Tagged Snook
If you happen to catch a tagged Snook, our friends at the FFC Commission and Mote Laboratories ask that you please NOT remove the tag. To ensure the PIT tags will supply the scientists with all the info needed until 2021. We ask that you release these fish after capturing the tag number, total length, location and date of capture.
We encourage you to report the tagged fish information to the ‘Angler Tag Return Hotline’ at (800) 367-4461 or tagreturn@MyFWC.com. If you are willing, we would like you to include your name, address, phone number and t-shirt size. For all the good Samaritans that help aid in the data collection, the partners at FWC offer a free t-shirt as a reward.
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CCA, Mote and FWC hope to keep this Snook population rebuild program thriving. The CCA’s renewed ‘Adopt-A-Snook’ program will help supplement the cost of rearing, growing, tagging and monitoring these lovely fish. Adopt-A-Snook donors can range from our local anglers, concerned conservationists or a local business just wanting to help rebuild our ocean.
All donors will receive an adoption certificate once all the Snook have been released into their designated locations. This certificate will include the release location and the tag number. The donors will be kept up to date on their little fishy friends using the clever PIT tags. 100% of all donations will be designated towards the care, monitoring and studying of the approximately 5,000 Snook.
If you would like to aid in the Red Tide rebound initiative, the CCA has renewed their Adopt-A-Snook program again. Each adopted Snook weighs in at $100 dollars. If you aren’t interested in adopting a specific fish you can also help the initiative by donating any amount you can to CCA, small or large. General donations can be made in various amounts from $1 – $1,000.
Learn more about the ‘Adopt-A-Snook’ Program.
Social Media Initiative
Like the Redfish catch-and-release order, the southwest coast of Florida has put Snook on the catch-and-release list too. Snook will remain on the catch-and-release list until August 31st, 2020. The waters from Pasco county down through Gordon Pass in Collier County, including the waters of Tampa Bay (Hillsborough County) are strictly catch-and-release only for Snook.
To help educate the fisherman that may not keep up with the FWC updates or standard fish ordinances, we urge you to help with the social media initiative “Release them for Tomorrow”. How may I help, you may be wondering? Its rather simple. When you catch one of the tagged Snook (or a possibly untagged Snook) take a picture with it and write a post. Post the image, location and use hashtag #releasethemfortomorrow.
You may receive comments from your followers, asking what your hashtag means. We urge you to inform your fellow friends, colleagues, anglers and family of the initiative. You can mention how the southwest Florida regions Snook, Redfish and Spotted Seatrout are catch and release only. These fish will remain catch-and-release only until mid-2020. Any fisherman who have caught any of these fish should take a photo, release the fish back into the ocean and then post their catch on their favorite social channel with the ‘#releasethemfortomorrow’ hashtag.