The Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point is seeking help from recreational anglers who catch red drum this summer.
VIMS scientists are collecting life history data on adult red drum — also known as channel bass — in a research project funded by the Virginia Salt water License Fund to get information, as well as remove reproductive organs and otoliths.
Otoliths are small bones in the heads of fishes that can be used to estimate growth rates. By cutting the otoliths and reading the bands — somewhat like counting rings on a cross-cut tree — scientists can determine the age of an individual fish.
A histological examination of gonadal tissue, delineation of spawning grounds and characterization of the recreational catch will help to determine the reproductive status of red drum captured by anglers in Virginia.
The red drum study is directed by VIMS biologist John Olney, who said that researchers hope to provide detailed information on the spawning and reproduction of the fish in the Chesapeake Bay and in Virginia’s seaside inlets.
Scientist at VIMS realize that the catch-and-release citation program for red drum that began in 1988 is very popular, and they are not encouraging anglers to change their practices to donate to this study.
Those who do decide to keep their fish are requested to record the total weight of the fish before removing the filets, and to store the carcass on ice. A VIMS biologist will pick it up, or it may be taken to Wallace’s Bait and Tackle in Foxhill, A&S Feed and Seed in Gloucester Point or Chris’ Bait and Tackle, located in the Edgewood Motel, 3 miles north of the Bay Bridge Tunnel.
For information, call John Olney at 804-684-7334 (days) or page him at 804-888-5644 (Hampton Roads area) or 804-684-0306 (Gloucester). Or, call Susan Crute at 804-684-7560 (days) or 804-769-2431 (home).