The aquaculture program here is running essentially a model system for the commercial aquaculture industry; we aim to display that (delicious) carnivorous fish, cobia in our case, can be farmed in the Bahamas in an ecologically and economically sustainable fashion. Just last week we moved all of the juvenile cobia (around 1,000 fish) from the wet lab into the cage, which was quite an impressive feat. I don’t know why little fish would fight going into a huge shark resistant cage in the ocean to be fed every day, but fight they did. Though, with the help of pretty much the entire staff here at CEI the process went very smoothly. While one team transferred the cobia to two 1,400 L (~400 gal) totes to be anesthetized with clove oil, another team prepared another two totes onboard the aptly named research vessel, the Cobia, and waited at the marina down the road. The initial two totes were driven over, and the fish were transferred with nets to the totes on the Cobia. Some of the fish didn’t feel like consuming the clove oil and being calm apparently, so this part was very slippery and prickly (cobia have spines) for us humans. All the fish were moved safely though, and we drove the boat out to the cage.
In order to put the fish in the submerged SeaStation cage, we crafted a “toilet” of sorts: a bucket with a hole in it was affixed to the top of a long tube about 6” in diameter which went down through the zipper of the main net and into a nursery net inside the cage. Using a pump, water was spiraled down the bucket and tube, and the fish were “flushed” from the boat one by one into their new home. The last couple days we’ve been diving and feeding the fish, who are still learning that big scary divers are giving them food, but they seem to be doing perfect and there are no mortalities to note. Here’s to a successful growout!