Experienced deep-sea anglers are all too familiar with the challenge of releasing snapper, grouper and other reef species caught in deep water. It’s not an issue unique to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, it is fair to say it happens worldwide.
The problem is barotrauma, a condition caused by the rapid change in atmospheric pressure when the fish is reeled too quickly to the surface. Gases in the fish’s swim bladder, an organ used to control their buoyancy in the water column, expand and rupture the bladder, escaping into the fish’s body cavity.
Recent research on rock fish on California’s West Coast has shown that many species of these deep-dwelling fish can survive if they are quickly returned to the bottom. A number of ingenious anglers have developed a variety of devices that can be used to accomplish this with minimum injury to the fish.
Some of these devices have just come on the market in the past six to nine months, and Florida Sea Grant extension agents are now conducting field trials of various descending tools on Gulf species to develop expertise in their use. You can read more about this new project by visiting The Marine Scene Plus!