Thousands of speckled trout released in Bay St. Louis

Thousands of speckled trout released in Bay St. Louis
Tiny speckled trout are scooped into a bucket before being released in Bay St. Louis. (Source: WLOX)

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Since 2004, more than 1 million laboratory raised fish have been released into the wild. Now, 32,000 speckled trout were added to that number.

Scientists who raise marine life, also known as aquaculturists, say that release days are worth celebrating.

"They're like children, you have to always be watching them, always be feeding them. Just to finally be at the end and the point where something comes out of it, it's very satisfying," said Heather King, an aquaculture technician at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "It's worth it every time. The more runs we do every summer, the better because it's the best part. It really is."

When carried out appropriately and successfully, aquaculture science directly affects wildlife conservation, which in turn directly effects sportsmen.

"We can put a lot more numbers out there and actually help the stocks recover at a much faster rate, without the need to implement aggressive management by reducing seasons and increasing size limits," said Angelos Apeitos, the hatchery manager of the USM Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

In plain terms, if you enjoy fishing, you should be thankful about the work being done at the Gulf Coast Research lab.

The fish that are being released in Bay St. Louis are smaller than the ones the lab usually releases. At about 25 days old, they look like minnows to the untrained eye.

Their size will be play a big role into how they'll adapt to their new environment.

"These smaller fish that we are releasing will forage on smaller prey items. Those smaller prey items are found near grass beds in shallow water, so there's no reason to believe that these fish won't start occupying those areas and start foraging in those smaller prey items," added Apeitos.

The trout become wild in just a few hours. Once they reach maturity, they'll be fair game to catch.

This release was a joint effort between the Gulf Coast Research Lab, The Department of Marine Resources and the Coastal Conservation Association.

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