Research shows speckled trout spawning during Harvey

Posted at 7:06 AM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 08:06:40-05

Hurricane Harvey left a trail of destruction across the Coastal Bend. Now, a researcher is looking into the storm’s impact under water.

Christopher Biggs, a researcher at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, is studying fish ecology. His latest research looks into how spotted sea trout, or speckled trout are impacted after a severe storm.

“What we’re seeing is that the sea trout are super productive,” Biggs said. “It was completely surprising considering the destruction that happened on land.”

Biggs found that out by listening to the sounds trout make when spawning. To listen to sound underwater, researchers use a tool called a hydrophone.

Biggs said researchers were only able to hear spawning sounds during the eye of the hurricane, when it was calmer and less noisy.

“No one would expect that in a storm that massive, that the fish would be so resilient,” Biggs said.

Biggs says the results of his findings help others understand the trout’s reproductive patterns and their habitat needs. He also says it’s good news for the fishing industry, and fish eaters like Sally Palmer.​

“Sea trout is on our dinner table at least once every two weeks or so,” Palmer said. “And so it’s helpful to know that research like this will help sustain that way of life.”

Biggs says he will continue to monitor spawning sites in the area. Next, he’ll be looking seasonal changes from year to year and how that affects trout.