Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study of Bigeye Tuna in Northwest Atlantic Uses New Tracking Methods


A first-of-its-kind study of bigeye tuna movements in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean led by Molly Lutcavage, director of the Large Pelagics Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, found among other things that these fish cover a wide geographical range with pronounced north-south movements from Georges Bank to the Brazilian shelf, and they favor a high-use area off Cape Hatteras southwest of Bermuda for foraging.

This NOAA-funded research, which used a new approach to study one of the most important commercial tuna species in the Atlantic, provides the longest available fishery-independent record of bigeye tuna movements to date. Data should help researchers to further characterize habitat use and assess the need for more monitoring in high-catch areas.

Pelagic longline vessel Captain Scott Drabinowicz and crew preparing to deploy a tag from the deck of the FV Eagle Eye II.

Results appear this week in an early online edition of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science.

Fisheries oceanographer Lutcavage says, “Although Atlantic bigeye tuna are delivering high prices to the U.S. commercial fleet and are highly sought by recreational fishermen and fishing tournaments, there’s been a surprising lack of scientific research on this species.

And in contrast to the Pacific, where tuna fisheries programs have deployed over 400,000 tags over 25 years, the Atlantic lacks the fisheries infrastructure that would increase the odds of recovering tags. We have to rely on popup satellite tags that are fishery independent to make sure we get information back from the tuna.”

Two earlier electronic tagging studies by others yielded relatively short tracking data, 113 days or fewer, and did not allow for seasonal analysis of movement or exploration of an alternate stock composition hypotheses, Lutcavage and colleagues note. Bigeye are currently managed as a single Atlantic stock, she explains, and the greater resolution of habitat use and migratory behavior revealed in this study are important first steps towards determining whether or not a more complex management approach may be warranted.

Working with pelagic longline vessel captains Scott Drabinowicz and John Caldwell of the FV Eagle Eye II out of Fairhaven, Mass., Lutcavage, with LPRC colleagues Tim Lam and doctoral candidate Ben Galuardi, deployed 21 pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT) on adult bigeye tuna between 2008 and 2010 in the northwest Atlantic.

The sea captains fit tags on fish in good condition and return them to the sea. The PSATs were programmed to record relative light level, temperature and pressure (depth) every two minutes for eight or 12 months.

Lutcavage, Lam and Galuardi were able to collect full-resolution time series data from a total of nine tags, providing data ranging from one to 292 days. The team also downloaded remote sensing and climatological information from the NOAA to characterize possible associations between bigeye tuna movement and behavior and environmental factors. 

Among variables they analyzed were the bigeyes’ use of the deep scattering layer for foraging. That is an ocean layer of marine life that rises and falls in relation to diurnal vertical migration. The researchers also looked at lunar influences on swimming depth, horizontal movements, plus vertical activity and factors influencing it such as temperature.

Lam explains, “Bigeye tuna dive deeply, like clockwork, at dusk and dawn, making it hard to use light-based geolocation methods to estimate their daily locations. Here, we showcase a new positioning technique to get around the problem of low light levels at depth by using temperature and the bigeyes’ spatial ecology and movements in the western Atlantic. But there’s much more to learn.”

The authors hope their results will inform the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna’s upcoming tagging effort and assist ICCAT scientists as they plan new research to better understand the population.

Alain Fonteneau, an emeritus scientist at France’s Institut de Recherches pour le Développement and a recognized expert member of scientific panels that manage regional tuna fisheries worldwide, called this work “fantastic.” He says, “Although we don’t see major unexpected surprises in these results, as we often see with Atlantic bluefin tuna results, this paper is the first one in the scientific literature to provide very new and very interesting results on bigeye vertical and geographical movements in the western Atlantic,” he points out.

Fonteneau adds, “Although these real observations are based on a small number of PSAT tags, they are much more comprehensive than the traditional catch-and-effort fishery data, at one time the only type available to ICCAT tuna scientists. It would clearly be of major scientific interest to develop this type of work at the scale of the entire Atlantic Ocean.”


Janet Lathrop | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Amherst Fisheries PSAT Tracking depth movement movements satellite species temperature tuna

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>