Newsletter of the UF/IFAS Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences January 2008
Aquaculture in Florida is dominated by the production of ornamental species for
the aquarium trade. The industry beginnings go back to 1930, with farms devel-
oping around Tampa and Miami. Today, the farms are spread throughout the
state, especially in the southern half where winter temperatures allow year-round
production. With advances in the marine aquarium hobby and discoveries in re-
production, husbandry and water quality management, one growing segment of
the industry is marine ornamental species, including hard corals. Currently, com-
mercial coral production is limited to Indo-Pacific species, as they are the only
ones available for culture. All Caribbean and Atlantic species are protected by
federal law, and possession is limited to research, education and coral colonies
that have naturally settled on live rock cultured on lease sites.
Coral reef restoration is receiving considerable attention as the health of our na-
tion's coral reefs is declining. While natural events, such as bleaching and storms
are not considered causes for restoration to occur, ship groundings, anchor dam-
age and other direct human effects require restoration as part of any good mitiga-
tion plan. The University of Florida's Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory (TAL)
located in Ruskin, Florida developed a plan and established a team approach to
exploring the possibilities for commercial production of several Caribbean coral
species for restoration efforts.
A collaborative effort with colleagues at The Florida Aquarium, the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary, Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Atlantic University,
Healthy Reefs (a private live rock producer in the Keys), the Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the University of South Florida,
the project is entering its third year. In April of 2006, seven species of corals were
rescued from a sea wall in the Truman Annex harbor of Key West that was sched-
uled for removal. The parent colonies were split into thirds, and then each third
was fragmented using a tile saw to create 10 fragments, approximately 1 inch
square each. All the fragments were attached using a 2-part epoxy to a 3 inch di-
ameter concrete disk. One group of fragments went to TAL, one to Mote Marine
Laboratory and the third group of fragments were secured directly to a damaged
section of Western Sambo reef off of Key West, again using a 2-part epoxy. The
fragments at TAL were allowed to grow for 6 months in a greenhouse recirculat-
ing system using Instant Ocean synthetic sea salt, and the fragments at Mote
were grown in outdoor, flow-through tanks at their Summerland Key facility.
(Article continued on page 4)
Notes &T News
Tom Frazer has been named a UF
Foundation Research Professor, in
recognition of his nationally recog-
nized research dealing ii i it freshwa-
ter and coastal marine ecosystems
and their responses to anthropogenic
stressors. The three-year professor-
ships recognize faculty members who
have established a distinguished re-
cord of research and scholarship
that is expected to lead to continued
distinction in the field.
Craig Watson received an award
from CoastalAmerica, a partnership
of 15 departments and agencies un-
der the US President, for his col-
laborative i ,i k iA i/tl the Florida
Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Coral Protection and Restoration
Program. The annual award recog-
nizes programs and their partici-
pants who provide an impact re.
conservation and protection of the
nation's coastal resources.
Paula Viveros, a PhD student work-
ing under the guidance of Professor
EdPhlips, received a NSF Fellow-
ship Award under the Snulh East Al-
lance for Graduate Education and
Professorship Program (SEAGEP).
The award will support her research
on coastal marine phytoplankton.
WaterWorks is a quarterly publication of the
UF/IFAS Department of Fisheries 8t Aquatic
Sciences, aimed at providing current informa-
tion to prospective students, alumni, stake-
holders and partners. To contribute an article
or information for a future issue contact the
Editor, Karl Havens (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mark Rogers, Towns Burgess and Jared Flowers, FAS
graduate students, spent a part of their summer in 2007 as mem-
bers of a team of scientists studying native fish in the Grand
Canyon reach of the Colorado River. These students were as-
sisting the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Cen-
ter (GCMRC) with ongoing native fish research. Several FAS
faculty and students have been involved in fish research in
Grand Canyon for nearly 10 years including faculty members
Drs. Bill Pine and Carl Walters and FAS PhD student (and
USGS fish biologist) Lew Coggins.
Native fish populations are a great concern in Grand Canyon
due to population declines possibly related to hydrologic
changes in the river following the construction of the Glen Can-
yon Dam. Currently only four of eight native species reside
within this portion of the Colorado River and one of the remain-
ing species, humpback chub (Gila c. y/',), is a federally listed
endangered species. Ongoing management actions designed to
aid the recovery of humpback chubs include experimental flows
and the experimental removal of non-native fishes, primarily
rainbow trout, which may prey upon juvenile humpback chub
or compete with chub for available resources. Cold-water spe-
cies have historically been the main suite of non-native fish in
Grand Canyon, but recently this has changed. The ongoing
drought in the Colorado River basin has lowered reservoir lev-
els in Lake Powell, resulting in warmer water passing through
the dam and in turn warmer water flowing into Grand Canyon.
The warm water has led to the expansion of a new suite of non-
native species leading to renewed concerns over the potential
effects on native fish. Because of the ecological, cultural, and
power generating values from the Colorado River ecosystem,
federal and state agencies invest considerable time and money
for research and monitoring of Grand Canyon's resources.
FAS's involvement with these agencies represents a unique
learning opportunity for everyone involved.
The students offer perspectives on this experience -
Mark Rogers, Ph.D (2007)
I was invited to join the Grand Canyon electro-fishing trip with
the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) in conjunc-
tion with the GCMRC in September, 2007. This trip was part of
an ongoing electro-fishing monitoring program to collect data
for multiple projects that included monitoring abundances and
distributions of both native and non-native fishes within the
river. We set out downstream of the Glen Canyon Dam with
two large rafts (36 feet long!), two 16' inflatable electro-
fishing boats and all the gear needed for 28 days on the river
including food, personal gear, spare generators and out-
boards. I have considerable field experience, but this trip
gave me a new appreciation for preparation and logistics
because there is no going back to the truck or office for for-
We spent our days traveling down river, setting up base
camps and electro-fishing at night. Running rapids and hav-
ing several hundred foot high rock cliffs towering over me
added a new twist to my electro-fishing experiences. Sam-
pled fish were enumerated, we measured lengths and
weights, evaluated fish for marks and marked fish according
to protocols of the multiple ongoing programs for estimating
population sizes and other research objectives. The diversity
of habitats was greater than I expected within the Canyon
and included sand bars, backwater eddies, boulder filled rap-
ids and deep vertical rock faces. I was fortunate to see all
four of the remaining native fish in the system (blue head
sucker Catostomus discobolus, flannelmouth sucker Catosto-
mus latipinnis, speckled dace Rhinichthys osculus, and
humpback chub) as well other fascinating sights of the Can-
yon such as Desert Bighorn Sheep Ovis canadensis, side
canyon hikes, indigenous cultural sites and amazing geol-
ogy. The boat drivers did a great job of getting us safely
down the river and they shared their wealth of knowledge
about the Grand Canyon ecosystem.
Boat drivers Stuart Reeder (foreground) and Steve Jones (background)
in inflatable electrofishing boats.
Towns Burgess and Jared Flowers, MS Students
During June 2007 we assisted cooperators from AZGFD and
GCMRC with research on warm water fish monitoring on
the Colorado River, AZ. Warmer water conditions in the
Grand Canyon reach of the Colorado River have caused con-
cern among resource managers over the potential impacts
Continued from page 2
of non-native warm water species including smallmouth bass
Micropterus dolomieu, striped bass Morone saxatilis, and
channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus on native species particu-
larly the federally listed humpback chub. Our involvement
with this sampling trip was assisting a field project designed to
estimate capture probability and movement patterns for chan-
nel catfish in the Colorado River using a variety of gears that
are part of the ongoing native and non-native fish monitoring
programs in Grand Canyon. We were asked to participate in
this project because of our extensive experience with a variety
of telemetry gear from our research at UF. In cooperation with
Dr. Bill Pine and Dr. Steve Walsh (USGS, Gainesville),
Towns Burgess developed a technique to surgically implant
sonic telemetry tags in channel catfish that prevents tag expul-
sion from the body cavity, a common problem with catfish.
For this two week field trip we launched from Diamond Creek,
one of the few access points to the Colorado River in Grand
Canyon, and floated about 15 miles downriver to our camp on
the upper river reach of Lake Mead. We set up camp on a
sandbar that provided enough room for all of our campsites,
boat landings and a large kitchen area. The field crew con-
sisted of 12 people, including a variety of technical boat driv-
ers and biologists from three different management agencies.
We collected and tagged 60 channel catfish using a variety of
gear types and monitored a 1.2 mile reach of the river to con-
firm presence of tagged fish in the study stretch and estimate
movement patterns (diurnal and linear) and habitat use during
our two weeks on the river. This river reach was also divided
into three segments where we tested different recapture me-
tods: electro-fishing, angling and hoop nets.
The environment in the Grand Canyon provided working con-
ditions that we were not fully accustomed to. The extreme
midday heat (115 F+, which could ruin LCD screens and
caused batteries and soda cans to explode) forced us to work
primarily in the mornings and evenings into late-night. The
heavy loading of coarse sediments in the river, scraping along
the rock canyon walls, played havoc with our telemetry equip-
ment. However, with considerable brainstorming, trial-and-
error, and duct tape, we were able to find solutions to most of
these problems. This experience challenged us to find ways to
address problems when they arose in the field under difficult
conditions. We also learned the value of being well prepared
when the closest hardware store is, well, not even close!
In addition to our work, we had a fantastic experience collabo-
rating with new people in Arizona and learning about conser-
vation issues in the southwest. Even though the field camps are
quite remote, the logistical support from GCMRC is amazing
and the meals are a highlight including steak, halibut, and great
coffee. In downtime we had time to sit, tell stories, and dis-
cuss new ideas with a diverse group of biologists and boatmen.
The most interesting aspect of this communication was in
realizing that even though the systems appear different many
of the same problems exist in Florida, such as introduced spe-
cies and drought & stream flow issues, and the approaches to
address these problems are similar to those in the southeast.
This perspective is something that could only have been fully
appreciated by experiencing it. We both agree that this was
one of the best field experiences we have ever had.
Unloading supplies at the Grand Canyon camp along the Colorado.
A birds eye view of the camp with all of its creature comforts.
Aquaculture of Caribbean Coral (Cont'd from Page 1)
During this time, the veterinarians at the TAL and the Florida Aquarium, work-
ing closely with FKNMS and FWC personnel, developed bio-security guidelines
and a health assessment protocol for issuance of a health certificate for corals.
The purpose of this health certification process is two-fold: first, to insure that
any cultured corals released as part of a restoration are as robust as possible and
will have the best chances of survival and growth; and second, to insure that any
re-introduced corals will not transmit infectious pathogens into the wild.
The health certification process is a living document, and is intended to provide
guidance for any future re-introduction work. In December 2006, all the frag-
ments that passed the health certification process were placed on the Western
Sambo reef site and a monitoring trip was conducted in May 2007.
While the study is still in its early stages, the project aims to determine if aqua-
culture production of corals for restoration can be done successfully and respon-
sibly. The vision is that someday, cultured corals may be available whenever an
event dictates the need for a supply of large quantities of coral colonies, and the
costs associated will be part of any mandated mitigation order. Current research
is focused on continued monitoring of the colonies transplanted to Western
Sambo reef and further refinement of the health certification process.
Additional studies now include development of health diagnostic tools using mi-
crobial community structure within the coral mucus as well as investigation of
the genetic diversity of the colonies and the potential impact of aquacultured cor-
als on the genetic diversity of wild coral populations in the Keys.
Craig Watson is Director of the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in the UF/
IFAS Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, located in Ruskin, FL.
TAL Website: http: tal.ifas.ufl.edu/
Contact the Author: c ,, ,,1 a, / ,,l Jd,
A piece of coral is shown here in cross section
Small experimental segments are cut with a saw.
The experimental array in a culture system.
Managing Aquatic Plants in Florida Lakes
A new information circular has been developed
by Florida LAKEWATCH to help citizen
scientists, students and professionals under-
stand the role aquatic plants have in lake ecol-
ogy and lake management. The circular is di-
vided into three sections: (1) aquatic plant biol-
ogy, (2) aquatic plant management problems,
and (3) aquatic plant management techniques.
This information circular represents a summary
of existing knowledge on aquatic plants and
aquatic plant management strategies, highlight-
ing the Florida situation.
A Bttws -- *1 Kf
,,a ~( ~
UF i loRa
Upcoming Seminars in FAS
(Fridays at 3 PM, FAS Conf. Room)
Feb 15: Bill Pine, Interactions among
common fisheries management strategies
Feb 22: David Reed, Gulf of Mexico habi-
Feb 29: Susan Gray, Science and manage-
ment ofLake Okeechobee
Mar 7: Mark Butler, Reproductive suc-
cess in spiny lobster
Family Fishing Days:
February 23 (Law Enforcement Appreciation Day)
March 29 (Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville Fishing Tournament)
April 26 (UF Center for Autism and Disabilities Family Fishing Day)
May 17 (George Kirkpatrick Jr. Kid's Fishing Derby)