GAINESVILLE — University of Florida researchers have teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Duke Energy’s Crystal River Mariculture Center to tag and track snook, a tropical game fish prized by anglers.
The research is funded with a $25,800 Duke Energy Foundation grant awarded in 2020. The grant came after Duke Energy workers at the Crystal River Energy complex noticed snook congregating in the canal each winter for several years and reached out to the onsite Mariculture Center’s supervisor, who then contacted researchers at the University of Florida.
As of Feb. 10, the UF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Duke Energy team have tagged a total of 20 snook, which will allow the team to track the fish’s migration patterns during the next several years.
Tags attached to the fish will ping acoustic receivers installed at different points in Duke Energy’s Crystal River Energy Complex discharge canal, Cedar Key and the Suwannee and Waccasassa rivers, recording each snook as it moves between the ocean and inland waters. This data will also provide information about the snook’s life cycle, offering valuable insights about how the snook fishery is managed and the future of recreational snook fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Duke Energy’s Mariculture Center at the Crystal River Energy Complex supports recreational fishing and the environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico by cultivating and releasing more than 4 million fish and crustaceans into the Gulf. Since opening in 1991, the center has become one of the most successful marine-stocking programs in Florida. The center also grows submerged aquatic vegetation, such as freshwater eelgrass and saltwater marsh species like mangroves and cordgrass. Since 2014, the center has provided more than 8 million individual plants for springs and lake restoration projects as well as living shoreline projects along the Florida Panhandle and Nature Coast.