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La Jolla High students raise, release seabass


Releasing fish
 Tagging fish
La Jolla High is taking a hands-on approach to conservation, as students in Dave James’ marine biology class recently released into Mission Bay 18 young white seabass that had been raised from eggs.


The hope is that they will thrive and help replenish the depleted species.

James, a marine science and biology teacher, read online about a program where students were raising abalone and white seabass in the classroom and became interested in getting something similar started for his students.

After receiving a grant from the McCloud Educational Trust, he teamed up with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and set up a mariculture system. The students have been nurturing the juvenile white seabass in their classroom since September, learning about sustainability of natural resources, aquaculture, environmental science and the importance of water quality.

“We took turns taking care of the fish, feeding them and cleaning the water. We measured them before putting them in the tank so we could record their growth process,” said Jacob Gonzalez, a senior at La Jolla. “Hopefully when we release them, they will be ready to go out into the wild.”

Michael Shane, a research scientist with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research who has assisted LJHS with the program, remarked not only on the educational value, but the positive environmental impact as well.

“We’ve released almost two million fish up and down the coast of California since the mid-1980s." said Shane. "These students are helping to replenish the stocks of white seabass that have been declining since the early 1950s.”

Before releasing the fish, students carefully scanned nine fish at a time for tiny tracking tags implanted in their cheek . These tags will help Hubbs scientists track how far the fish have traveled, how big they got and how healthy they stayed. They then slowly poured the bucket of fish into the chilly Mission Bay water.

“This program is wonderful,” said James. “Students are getting to learn real-world skills that they can apply when they go to college. It helps them put everything they are learning together — chemistry, physics, biology, ecology — and they get to be responsible for fish being released into the wild.”

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– Photos and story by Brett Higdon