An experimental program has been conducted to examine the feasibility of using seawater solar ponds in mariculture operations along the Texas gulf coast to protect fish crops from the potentially lethal, cold temperatures experienced in outdoor ponds. Seawater solar ponds in the form of floating thermal refuge areas are proposed as a method for reducing the loss of heat from small sections of a pond. Gradient zone erosion under various ambient and operating conditions is examined. Comparisons with previous laboratory studies show a much lower entrainment rate in the natural environment. For conditions which are typical of those encountered in mariculture pond operation, the entrainment rate was found to depend only weakly on the Richardson number. For these conditions, a simple (linear) correlation of entrainment rate with wind speed was developed.

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