Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tennessee Aquarium To Release Southern Appalachian Brook Trout from Ongoing Restoration Project on Thursday, Aug. 29th





The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) will release more than 200 Southern Appalachian Brook Trout in Hampton Creek as part of a new long-term effort to restore these beautiful fish to their native waters. TNACI is working with National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the Tennessee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service on this restoration project.

The colorful Southern Appalachian Brook Trout (SABT) is the only species of trout that is native to Tennessee. Once abundant in the clear, cool mountain streams of east Tennessee, the SABT is found in only three percent of its historical range today.

Brook trout fry with yolk sack

Last October, TNACI scientists, working with biologists from TWRA, removed 50 adult SABT from Hampton Creek to begin propagating the fish at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. For the first time, more than 200 SABT offspring were successfully reared in a closed-circulation system. These juveniles have been tagged and will be reintroduced to Hampton Creek at noon on Thursday, August 29.

The Southern Appalachian Brook Trout is one of the most beautiful aquatic treasures that the Appalachian Mountains have to offer, with bright golden spots and vivid red bellies. Being one of the smallest members of the Salmon family and one of the more challenging to locate, this unique fish is a prize among trout fishermen.

Adult Southern Appalachian Brook Trout

Logging activities wiped out large portions of the habitat for this fish. When SABT numbers dwindled, many sites were overtaken by Rainbow Trout, a non-native species that can withstand warmer water and more direct sunlight. In many areas, forests have been repaired along streams creating more favorable conditions for SABT restoration work.

The National Fish & Wildlife Federation awarded a grant to TNACI to participate in a study to perfect captive breeding techniques for this species. There is a significant need to progress captive propagation efforts for this species before the remaining distinct populations decline further in the wild.

Before this success at TNACI, Southern Appalachian Brook Trout had only been successfully raised at the Tellico Fish Hatchery in the Cherokee National Forest a few times. Their success, using water from the source stream, inspired the idea that TNACI scientists could do the same thing at the Aquarium using chilled and dechlorinated tap water sourced from the City of Chattanooga. Because most hatcheries operate using flow-through water systems, concern exists about the transmission of disease and escaped fish to nearby wild populations.



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