Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) research scientist and SITC program coordinator Mike Shane delivered the fish that were ultimately released into Mission Bay to Mission Bay High School in March as part of Mission Bay High School’s inaugural STEM education program.
Mission Bay High School is one of five local school programs that have benefited from expansion of the Institute’s SITC program this last year, thanks to ongoing support of SDG&E and private local donors and partners.
The SITC program incorporates a hands-on learning experience into school science curriculum and couples it with field activities related to the release of cultured marine fish.
The program teaches the students about aquaculture and stock enhancement by growing, feeding, tagging and finally releasing the fish into local waters. Once released, the students’ cultured seabass are tracked by tags embedded in their cheeks.
This HSWRI program is part of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP). OREHP is the result of an extraordinary partnership between California resource agencies, public-utility companies, sportsfishing groups and the scientific community to restore the depleted populations of recreationally and commercially important marine fish.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, annual party boat catches of white seabass in California dropped from more than 55,000 to less than 3,500.
Partly as a result of that, the OREHP Advisory Panel identified white seabass in 1983 as the most appropriate species to initiate this long-term research program.
Since program funding is generated by fishing-license fees north of the Mexican border and south of Point Arguello, HSWRI’s fish culture, tag-and-release and assessment activities are focused in Southern California.
Because of private donor support, funding from public-utility companies and the ongoing support of sportfishers and sportfish-ing groups, OREHP releases thousands of fish each year.
On Aug. 21, HSWRI released its 2 millionth white seabass. Adult fish have been recovered up to
13 years after release and more than 350 miles from their release site.
The SITC project at Mission Bay High School began when marine biology teacher Steve Walters and Bill Jones — a graduate student from Scripps Institute of Oceanography — started talking about how to bring science into the classroom.
They were both part of a National Science Foundation project called GK-12, and they agreed that the white sea bass project was a perfect STEM idea.
“The students performed the chemistry, feeding, measurements of the fish and monitored and cleaned the tank,” said Jones.
“We also took a field trip up to the hatchery in Carlsbad, then we did a tour of SIO and had pizza on the pier. It was a great day and the students enjoyed the program,” he said.