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New scientist doing snook-y studies

Mote Marine Laboratory is pleased to welcome Dr. Ryan Schloesser, a postdoctoral scientist who will be working with the Fisheries Ecology & Enhancement Program to help develop and test responsible stock enhancement technology to help restore depleted snook populations and advance knowledge about wild snook stocks as part of the Lab’s Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative.

Snook are one of the most sought-after catches in Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry, which draws more than $6 billion to the economy annually. However, increased fishing pressure, habitat loss and natural challenges such as freezes and red tide have contributed to a decline in snook populations. Thus, for more than 25 years, Mote and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scientists have partnered on research studies designed to evaluate if stocking hatchery-reared snook can be an effective fishery management tool for replenishing snook stocks.

Mote researchers document snook that have been hatchery-reared and released into Sarasota Bay as part of small-scale pilot studies. These studies recover vital data that can be used to adjust release protocols. Past release results have revealed that changes in snook-release strategies have improved survival of stocked snook by as much as 200 percent.

As part of the Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative, Schloesser and other Mote researchers will be conducting these small-scale studies on a larger scale than before, releasing tens of thousands of hatchery-reared snook into Sarasota Bay.

Sarasota philanthropists Carol and Barney Barnett have generously donated to help Mote implement its Fisheries Conservation & Enhancement Initiative to help protect and restore fisheries in the Bay. The Barnett’s have challenged the community to raise $3 million more for Mote’s Oceans of Opportunity Campaign.

Schloesser received his Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2006, his Master’s degree from Texas A&M at Galveston in 2008 and his Ph.D from College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2015.