Did Scientists Find The Key To Restoring The Snook Population?

http://snook%20restoration

If you’ve ever heard your reel scream…

Or felt your rod double over when a snook hits your bait…

There’s a very high chance that snook is your favorite species to target.

They’re big, strong, and acrobatic.

It’s no wonder they have a cult-like following.

But they’re also sensitive.

In 2010 the snook population was decimated by a cold snap.

And last year they got hit badly with red tide.

But scientists may have made a big breakthrough in restocking the snook population.

Are Probiotics The Key To Restoring Snook?

marco island snook fishing

Dr. Andrea Tarnecki from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, FL, recently led a study on the effects of probiotics given to snook larvae.

Since up to 99% of larvae die in some marine fish species, larval mortality is a huge bottleneck in rearing fish.

To try to increase the larval survival rate, here’s what they did…

They studied three groups:

  1. Control group that received no probiotics
  2. Test group that received probiotics in the water and their food
  3. Test group that received probiotics in the water alone

What they discovered was huge.

Snook that received probiotics in their water and food had a 2.5 times greater chance of survival on average!

And this wasn’t a small test.

They tested hundreds of thousands of snook larvae.

What’s more, the snook that received the probiotic had an increased survival rate of 20% a week after they went through a simulated transport.

So not only are more snook babies surviving in the lab, but after going for a little car ride (to simulate them getting dropped off in your honey hole), more snook are surviving.

Science for the double win!

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What does this mean?

snook fishing off docks

When snook die from cold snaps or bouts of red tide, facilities like the Mote Marine Laboratory have more snook babies to replenish the stock.

And not only do they have more snook babies to replenish the stock, but these babies have a 20% higher chance of surviving.

This is very encouraging for future snook populations.

Conclusion

snook fishing at night

Although we are still struggling with red tide, and the occasional cold snap can hurt our snook stock any given winter…

The good news is that scientists may have found a way to better replenish the snook population.

With a 2.5x increased larval survival rate and 20% higher chance of surviving after transport, probiotics are making snook’s future look just a little brighter in these tough times for the environment.

What can you do to help?

Check out Mote Marine Laboratory’s website at Mote.org and consider donating or volunteering.

Have a question or comment about snook and probiotics?

Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. know someone who needs to read this? TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Jason Sanchez
2 years ago

Somebody below correctly stated that many snook fishermen do not “appear” to know how to properly handle a snook for catch and release. I say “appear” because I have seen plenty of catch photos posted with snook being dangled in a way that is harmful to the snook. So, here’s a suggested fishing tip post for Joe, Luke, Tony, et al. Please post a “how-to” for handling snook, and post it 2-3 times a year for the benefit of new members. Please include the benefits of using circle hooks (especially with live bait) and explain the nuances of using a circle hook versus a j-hook. And, gut-hooks; please address the best practices for fish survive-ability after a gut hook. Knowledge is power.

To everyone: I hope you all have the experience of having a catch-and-release snook strawberry your thumb! It’s awesome!

Jason Sanchez
2 years ago

On the one hand, increasing the survival chances of snook larvae seems like a good thing. However, messing with mother nature has time-and-again created undesirable unintended consequences. Snook have evolved over millions of years. Snook have evolved to lay a massive number of eggs, and very few of those eggs survive to become mature breeding adult snook. Those snook that survive to breed are generally the strongest in terms of genetics. There is a reason for this, and while I must admit that I am not an expert, I do understand the basic premise of natural selection – the strongest genes survive to propagate and pass on those most successful genes. So, my question is this: Does Mote Marine Laboratory’s efforts to increase the survive-ability of snook larvae result in diminished genetic hardiness in snook? I don’t know the answer to this and I can not say whether Mote Marine Laboratory’s work will harm or benefit snook populations. I guess we will see (fingers crossed).

Snookman
2 years ago

Now if they would restock Florida bay.
We really need it

Thomas Marks
2 years ago

Just now looking at all the other comments about snook management and the wide range of beliefs it is obvious that there needs to be some “changes” by the fishery managers. I could go into a long history here but there is a “method” being used in some states and around the world that just might help. I will work on this with the state I just need to know who to speak with and if anyone here has a suggestion where I should start it will save me time. Thank you.

Thomas Marks
2 years ago

I have been interested how fish and the environment all my life. It was my original career goal to work in that field but like a lot of folks you go where the jobs are and this often sends you in another direction. However, I was lucky to know my state biologists and had opportunities to work on a volunteer basis with fish management for Lake Erie. I became an advisor for the Lake Erie Percid Management Group. (Percids are walleye and yellow perch.)

I found your short story on how the Mote Marine Laboratory increased the odds to successfully raise snook quite interesting. I certainly will have to find out a lot more about snook management and stocking. You got the scientist in me thinking of other experiments and possibilities to help snook overcome “curveballs” thrown at them by Mother Nature and perhaps hurdles we throw at them. I am certain the work that they have done is not as simple as it sounds, but you got me thinking.

As anglers we always have to keep the resource foremost in our minds. It is here for us to enjoy today and we need to keep it healthy for the future despite the “curveballs” thrown at it. I hear from “old-timers” how good it used to be, perhaps we can get it there again.

Thanks Joe for what you do!

Capt. Tom Marks

Jim Lyles
2 years ago

Keep our license / national park fees and relieve FWC of their duties

Mel Bledsoe
2 years ago

I live up in the panhandle of nw Florida. We would love to catch a snook. But noooo

Jason Harper
2 years ago

Nice fish luke! Great information here and glad to some people acting on this!

Marcus Lane
2 years ago

Snook psychosis. Manufactured crisis. Snook are well established and well (overly) regulated. Anybody who fishes around them, anybody who dives, and anyone who visits the springs during winter can attest to this. There is money in regulation. Red Tide and Winter happens and Snook survive in large numbers. You can find Snook as far north as Yankeetown, FL and lots of them. If they could reliably count stock it would be one thing but they can’t so crisis is made up. If they have a way to make the Snook population even stronger great but don’t alter the species for the sake of the money made from regulation and so called scientific research.

Mike Trela
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Lane

absolutely true. I have never caught more snook than this year and in every area, including places there were nevery any snook in years past. Where is the scientific evidence that the population has been hurt by red tide?

Marcus Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Trela

It reminds me of the fake Red Snapper crisis. You can’t even go on a wreck without having to sort past the Red Snapper and JewFish (another one) to try to get a Grouper (yet another one). Bureaucrats are ruining the sport. If the Guides have complaints then they can be required to be catch and release only. I just say that because the Guides are the ones complaining about everything and getting new regulations passed. Nothing against them, they have to make a living but release your fish if you are so worried.

Marjorie Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Trela

Mike, did you visit any beaches during red tide and view the dead fish? If you’re looking for “evidence” check the pictures from last year. I walked Siesta Key last year and counted hundreds of dead snook, several hours after they had cleared the beach of carcasses. The breeding snook were in the Gulf water when it was toxic. During the spawn. The younger fish stayed in the estuaries and survived. There were lots of dish that survived, however, the extreme toxicity in the Gulf waters during the snook spawn, has, without question, damaged the snook life cycle in southwest Florida. One does not have to go far for “evidence”.

Chris Pflaum
2 years ago

The problem here in Charlotte Harbor is lack of food. The population of juvenile fish is large and that of mature fish is small. To grow to maturity, fish need food and shrimp are at the bottom of the food chain. To restore fish populations, shrimping in our bays and harbors must be banned. When Tampa did so, the fishery exploded. Putting limits on mullet wouldn’t hurt. I learned this from a Ph.D. biologist who has published on this problem.

Jim Lyles
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Pflaum

Hey Chris, why can’t you catch a 40 pounder every trip after the gill net ban. Maybe if we ban boats and fishing rods they’ll come to our house, dress themselves and jump in the pan

Chris Pflaum
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Lyles

An ignorant and snarky comment. I believe in following the data and science. If the bottom of the food chain is diminished, the effect goes up to the top. That is the science. What we see here in Charlotte Harbor is a classic case of the bottom of the food chain being overharvested with the expected consequence, there is a good hatch but the juvenile fish do not mature.

Jason Sanchez
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Pflaum

Chris – I wholly agree that there is an interrelation and dependence between the parts of the “food chain” and the “eco-web” in which snook exist. Unfortunately I do not have enough expertise to say anything definitive on this subject, however I still have an opinion. I agree with you that detrimental activity to snook food reduces the number of snook (and other fish).

Jim Lyles
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Pflaum

I believe the Snow flake word of the day is snitty, not snarky. Fact is FWC has reduced the harvest from open: to 2: to 1 open: to 1 big slot: to gill net ban: to 1 smaller tighter slot: to tightest slot: to closed for 2 years and yet you celebrate. I call for dolphin legislation as they have a high inelegance yet they ignore the laws and eat more snook and reds a year then I could dream of. FWC send sends out a survey knowing 90% of the fisherman will say they have a hard time catching fish X,Y.Z and so they close a season. Attrician comes from predation, natural causes such as red tide and freezes, meanwhile I’m still having 40 fish days. I just don’t appreciate someone applauding the government confiscating others peoples rights

Mike Trela
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Pflaum

Your probably right. They tried stocking more and more salmon in Sebago lake to increase the declining population and got nothing but skinny fish and the population still declined. When they instead stocked smelt , their preferred bait fish, the population not only grew but trophy size returned. I’m sure that is true for Snook and Redfish also.

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