Mote launches snook tracking program with release of 320 fish

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The next time a fisherman snags a snook on Phillippi Creek, it could be one of 320 just released by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists. 

Each of the 320 were tagged, documented and just big enough to hold a tiny tracker that will communicate with antennas at release sites, according to Mote Marine scientist Ryan Schloesser.

Schloesser explained how the system will keep tabs on each fish during it's journey through Phillippi Creek.

"Every time a fish that has this tag swims over that loop, an electromagnetic field charges this tag. It spits out a very specific number so we know exactly which fish was over that loop at that time," he said.

Scientists are trying to figure out the environment where snook thrive the most. On Phillippi Creek, those environments could include sea walls, natural shorelines and areas with vegetation.

"We are documenting the dispersal of snook at these different habitat types and how long they reside in the various habitats," Schloesser explained.

Over the years, red tide and cold snaps have reduced the snook population. Millions were killed during a single cold snap in 2010. While the population is rebounding, scientists hope to learn what they can do if it happens again.

"We are trying to develop that responsible strategy so that we can release juvenile snook in the event that the snook population does poorly in the future," said Schloesser.