HSWRI researcher Michael Shane led the charge on the hands-on project, showing students how to monitor water quality in the sophisticated classroom aquaculture system, observe and understand various life stages, utilize technology employed in culturing the white sea bass, and tag and scan the fish for monitoring prior to their release in the wild.
“They are part of a larger program called the Ocean Resources Enhancement Hatchery Program, and we’ve released nearly two million fish through that program up and down the coast of Southern California,” said Shane. “These fish will become part of that larger overall program, and these students are helping to replenish stocks of white sea bass, which have declined since the early 1950s.”
By the time the fish were ready for release on Jan. 24 in Crown Point Park, students had learned the intricacies of sustainable fishing, the importance of aquaculture systems and how to monitor water quality and calculate waterflow-turnover rates during their lessons throughout the semester.
“They can actually compare with other schools that are participating and see how fast their fish are growing,” said Shane. “Certainly the important message is our responsibility for the environment and sustainability of seafood and aquaculture.”
By the end of the hands-on project, 22 of the sea bass survived, following casualties from euthanization due to physical damage.
Four of the fish were turned over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for health evaluations to look at growth abnormalities and parasites.
A total of18 fish were cleared for release on Jan. 24.
The average total length of the fish increased from 174 millimeters to 215 millimeters. The average weight increased from nearly 53 grams to more than 92 grams.