Summer Aquaculture Field Course in Panama


Course Announcement
Summer 2016
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
MES 619/MAF 519 – Aquaculture III


Field Course at Open Blue Sea Farms Hatchery and Open Ocean Aquaculture Facilities in Panama


Annual Workshop on Physiology and Aquaculture of Pelagics with Emphasis on Reproduction and Early Developmental Stages of Yellowfin Tuna, (Thunnus albacares)


Dates: July 5-17, 2016

Location: IATTC Achotines Laboratory and Open Blue Sea Farms

Republic of Panama, Central America


The Aquaculture Program of the University Of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) is organizing the AQUA III MES 519 Summer Course 2016 Session simultaneously with the 14th Annual Workshop on “Physiology and Aquaculture of Pelagics with Emphasis on Reproduction and Early Developmental Stages of Yellowfin Tuna”. Number of UM students is limited to six, and number of outside participants of IATTC is limited to six. The organizer is Dr. Daniel Benetti, a Professor and Director of Aquaculture at UM-RSMAS. This course is conducted simultaneously with the Annual Tuna Workshop at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATCC).

As in previous years, we anticipate the participation of qualified students and researchers and professionals from several countries combining advanced technologies to improve methods for raising larval tuna and other species of marine fish. Participants will be assisted by a qualified technical staff and by graduate students from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The course/workshop will be conducted at the world renowned Achotines Laboratory in Provincia de Los Santos, on the Pacific coast of the Republic of Panama, as well as at the Open Blue Sea Farms, the most advanced hatchery and offshore marine fish aquaculture operation in the Americas.

The course/workshop will cover reproduction and larval development of commercially and ecologically important marine fish species. Topics include physiology, biology, ecology, genetics, nutrition and environmental issues related to aquaculture of pelagic fish species such as tuna, mahimahi, cobia, yellowfin kingfish, Seriola and other Carangidae. The workshop also covers capture, handling, transportation, maturation, spawning, larval husbandry, nursery and growout techniques of a variety of marine fish species. Participants will learn about the research projects being conducted by the IATTC with yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares, including spawning and larval rearing. Course/workshop attendees will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing efforts to capture, transfer, and handle yellowfin tuna. At least half of the time will be spent at Open Blue Sea Farms site off Viento Frio, Colon, in the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama.

The registration fee for enrolled UM students is $550.00 and includes accommodations and 3 local style meals a day at the Achotines Laboratory and transportation while in Panama. The registration fee does not cover accommodations in Panama City.


MES 619/MAF 519 – Aquaculture Management III – AQUA III

Summer 2016 – July 5-17

Panama, Central America

Field Work at Iattc Achotines Tuna Laboratory and Open Blue Sea Farms Hatchery and Offshore Cage Farm

Professor: Dr. Daniel Benetti

Office Phone: + 1 (305) 421-4889; Cell Phone: + 1 (786) 553-5557



Course Syllabus

The course covers theoretical and practical/lab classes on all stages of yellow fin tuna and cobia aquaculture, fisheries, physiology, energetics, nutrition, etc. Course topics encompass theoretical and practical classes about all stages of R&D, operation and production at Open Blue Sea Farms and at the IATTC, including but not restricted to the following:


Part I – Achotines Iattic Tuna Laboratory

  • Systems Description
  • Capture
    • Transport
    • Transfer From Boat
    • Acclimation
    • Tagging
  • Quarantine
    • Prophylaxis
    • Transfer From Quarantine to Reserve Tank
    • Transfer from Reserve Tank to Maturation Tank
  • Broodstock
    • Broodstock Feeding
    • Spawning
    • Egg Collection
    • Tank Cleaning/Siphoning
    • Fertilization Rates
  • Egg Incubation
    • Sampling and Counting
    • Stocking Incubators
      • Upwelling
      • Banjo Nets
      • Aeration and Water Exchange
    • Egg Counting
      • Volume
      • Fertilization Rates
    • Yolk-Sac Larvae
      • Hatching Rate
  • Stocking
    • Passive Transfer
    • Other methods
  • Feeding
    • Microalgae
    • Rotifers
      • Feeding
      • Enrichment
      • Treatments
  • Oil Surface Tension
  • Water Exchange, Aeration, Mesh
  • 24 hour light, mosquito net
  • Offshore Cages
    • Harvest
    • Cage Management
    • Net Cleaning and Changing
  • Juvenile
    • Transfer
    • Feeding
  • Field trip to Open Blue Sea Farms
    • Conduct day to day operation and training at commercial hatchery and offshore cage site
    • Theoretical and practical classes
  • Final Presentation/Final Projects/Assignments submitted


Part II – Open Blue Sea Farms

Visit to Open Blue Sea Farms Hatchery, Nursery and Growout Offshore facilities. Hands-on work at all stages of the production process, from water intake, pumping and filtering systems to broodstock management, spawning, larval rearing, live feeds production, nursery and growout and feeding and proactive health management.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Daniel Benetti

MES – RSMAS – University of Miami

4600 Rickenbacker Causeway

Miami FL 33149 U.S.A.

Tel: +1(305) 421-4889

Fax: +1(305) 421-4675



An Ocean Oil Spill Science Legacy


An Ocean Oil Spill Science Legacy

There have been two large scale oil spills over the past 4 decades in the Gulf of Mexico. The Ixtoc I spill in 1979 off the coast of Carmen, Mexico released 3.5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, and the Macondo wellhead blowout off the coast of Louisiana, USA in 2010 released 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Both of these incidents resulted in scientists coming together to gather the data needed to understand the fate of the oil, the disturbances it caused to the ecosystem, and its impacts on humans. One of the largest drivers of research efforts surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident is the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). GoMRI-funded research has significantly enhanced our knowledge of Gulf ecosystems and the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf

It has also identified gaps in our understanding that are leading to new research and insights that will inform society’s response to future oil spills through improved mitigation efforts, refined detection of oil and gas in the environment, more robust spill simulation models, and novel technologies.

Rapid Responses to Continuing Spill Threats

Oil spills are a persistent threat to the Gulf of Mexico. Just last month, a subsea wellhead oil flow line discharged an estimated 2000 barrels off the coast of Louisiana. When the flow line leak was detected, GOMRI scientists mobilized to visit the site within a few days of the leak to begin studying the impacts of the oil. This rapid response was the result of the research infrastructure developed by GoMRI funding. Similar to last month’s spill, GoMRI scientists have rapidly responded to other smaller spills. Within a few days of the July 2013 explosion on the Hercules gas platform off the coast of Louisiana, a diverse team of GoMRI scientists from five research consortia quickly mobilized to visit the rig site.

The next year, after a cargo ship off the coast of Texas collided with a barge, spilling 168,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil into Galveston Bay, GoMRI scientists were on the scene alongside government and industry workers within days.

This rapid response is not limited to the Gulf of Mexico. In May 2015, 2,000 miles away from the Gulf, a spill occurred off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA and within hours GoMRI scientists were remotely assisting local researchers.

The GoMRI Legacy

The GoMRI legacy focuses on creating an overall preparedness for future spills by increasing our knowledge of the Gulf, oil, and dispersants; advancing technology and modeling; training future generations of scientists and engineers; engaging and informing the public and stakeholders; and making all GoMRI data available through online open access.

Importantly, unlike during the era of the Ixtoc I spill, technology now allows scientists to archive and share their data with other researchers. Currently there are 26,000 GB (gigabytes) of data stored in the GoMRI Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) public, online data repository with datasets added daily. Such data accessibility was not available decades ago. In many cases, all we have are the publications that resulted from Ixtoc I research, but much of the original data were lost to time.

To date, GoMRI research represents the efforts of 293 institutions from 42 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and 17 countries. The almost 3,400 GoMRI scientists spread across these institutions collaborate on 242 projects and have created 1,100 unique datasets and counting. GoMRI funding has provided research opportunities for over 2,400 students from high school through post-doctoral studies.

The story of some of these researchers and their important discoveries about petroleum pollution, and marine and coastal ecosystems is portrayed in the “Dispatches from the Gulf” documentary produced by Screenscope.

A Legacy Still Being Written

This summer GoMRI scientists forge ahead with fieldwork to continue to monitor the long term impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil and understand oil spill dynamics, including revisiting the Ixtoc I spill site. GoMRI researchers are wading into marshes and retrieving creatures from the deep ocean; sampling the sediment and surface wave dynamics; examining sounds of whales and bubbles of methane. Along the way, these researchers will also continue to write the GoMRI legacy.

At the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the RECOVER consortium – which focuses on the affects of oil exposure on fish – will satellite tag captive mahi-mahi to examine spawning behaviors; look at how oil exposure can alter vision and smell in mahi-mahi and red drum; observe the heart cells oil-exposed mahi-mahi, evaluate the impacts of oil on genetic profiles of embryos of mahi-mahi and red drum to better predict adverse effects on the heart and whether there can be recovery; use Gulf toadfish to examine how ingesting oil-contaminated seawater affects the ability of marine fish to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance while living in a salty environment.

Today, on World Oceans Day, we can reflect on the progress GOMRI has made in advancing oil spill research, and subsequently our ability to deal with the ever present threat of oil spills. Due to the groundbreaking research GOMRI has sponsored, we will be better prepared to understand and respond to any future petroleum releases into marine systems.

About GoMRI

All research discussed in this article was made possible by grants from The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit


Media contact:

Leslie Smith

(202) 787-1613


Dan DiNicola

RECOVER Outreach Coordinator

(954) 644-2642

New Experiment has Researchers Satellite Tagging Captive Mahi-mahi


A new video documents why Ph.D students Lela Schlenker is satellite tagging captive mahi-mahi at the University of Miami’s Experimental Hatchery.

The tags are capable of recording location, depth, temperature, light levels and acceleration.

Findings from this study will shed light on the under-studied spawning behavior of mahi and is also the first time such events have been recorded.

These studies will then be replicated in the field on wild mahi-mahi.