Dr. Leonardo Ibarra-Castro continues to lead the fish aquaculture program started in 2019. During the first year, a microalgae laboratory was created for harvesting three microalgae marine species, to feed rotifers that then feed fish larvae. A facility was also built for high-density rotifer culture with an automatic production system and an additional laboratory built to complement the larvae nutrition. The broodstock facilities currently house four estuarine-marine fish species for reproduction in captivity – Red Drum, Spotted Seatrout, Common Snook and Northern Red Snapper.
In 2020, Dr. Ibarra-Castro and his team collaborated with Dr. Daniel Benneti at the University of Miami, where 10,000 red snapper juveniles were raised and 8,000 of those sent to different aquaculture centers for continued growing and research. He continues collaboration with Whitney faculty including Dr. James Strother, Dr. James Liao and Dr. Todd Osborne and IFAS faculty Dr. Frank Chapman.