BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Roughly 134,000 speckled trout started a new life in the wild with the help of the Gulf Coast Research Lab and other groups dedicated to protecting the ocean.
“Today’s trout release is just special because we’ve had such a rough year with the Bonnet Carré Spillway," Kelly Lucas with University of Southern Mississippi’s Marine Aquaculture Center. "We just feel a little extra proud to go ahead and get a stock enhancement in the water and kind of help mother nature get a jump start.”
Scientists have to test for salinity and make sure fish get used to the water before they can be released. A large tube pumps water from the new body of water into the tank where the fish are held. Once the charts were cleared, the fish were released through another tube into the Mississippi Sound.
The Coastal Conservation Association hosts tournaments that connect local anglers to researchers, who then spawn and raise thousands of fish.
“They bring them back to the lab, raise them and then after a little time, we get to see the fruits of our labor," said Tommy Elkins, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi.
Experts believe every fish that makes it into the wild serves a greater purpose.
“Just to make sure the population doesn’t go into decline, so we have fish for our kids and grandkids to catch when it’s their turn," Elkins said.
Since 2006, the Gulf Coast Research Lab has released more than 1.5 million spotted sea trout into the wild.