A team of scientists, professional anglers, and videographers recently embarked on a fishing trip to capture wild mahi-mahi broodstock (i.e. breeding adults) for the University of Miami’s Experimental Hatchery program. The ongoing research is part of the RECOVER Consortium, which is focusing on the effects of crude oil on mahi-mahi and red drum in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. RECOVER (Relationships of Effects of Cardiac Outcomes in fish for Validation of Ecological Risk) is a Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative consortia based at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
RECOVER scientists rely on the healthy population of wild mahi-mahi off the coast of Miami to repopulate breeding stocks in captivity. These fish will produce the tens of thousands of offspring that will be used in experimental trials relating to oil exposure at various life stages.
The mahi-mahi are caught with rod and reel using circle hooks to ensure the least amount of harm and stress to the fish. They are then placed into a large custom-designed holding tank on the aft of the boat. The tank is constantly supplied with oxygen and seawater to further reduce stress and keep the fish healthy as they are transported back to the hatchery facility. Individual fish are transported from the capture vessel to land-based tanks at the hatchery where they are then placed into quarantine tanks for acclimation. Following the acclimation period, newly captured broodstock are introduced into specially designed maturation tanks equipped with advanced recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) that allow for year-round spawning of the fish in captivity. The large volume of the tanks, which range in size from 8,000 to 21,000 gallons, and advanced life support systems allow the mahi-mahi to grow and reproduce naturally thereby providing a unique resource for research.
Watch the video here: