Two related research expeditions by NOAA scientists to track the habitat preferences and movements of fish at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary may help managers protect overfished species such as red snapper and grouper. Research from the two expeditions appears in the current online edition of the peer-reviewed Bulletin of Marine Sciences.
“It’s important to know exactly what areas to protect,” says Matt Kendall, principle investigator on the habitat mapping project. “Certain fish gravitate to certain bottom types. If you want to protect red snapper, for example, you have to know where they live.”
The projects tracking fish movements through telemetry will help researchers better understand the basic “life histories” of these fish. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, citing the “lack of basic management data as a major obstacle” to the successful management of these species, has recently called for a total ban on red snapper fishing to help restore stock levels. The ban is pending final approval.
According to the latest reports from NOAA Fisheries, black sea bass, red snapper, red grouper, and gag are among the region’s overfished species. These studies are helping researchers better understand the movements and habitat preferences of these species, and their potential vulnerability to fishing. This knowledge will contribute to stock management and recovery of overfished species.
In the first of the two expeditions, researchers confirmed the importance of limestone ledges, which make up only one percent of Gray’s Reef and only slightly more of the entire continental shelf of the southeastern United States. Scientists noted a distinct correlation between ledge characteristics such as height and degree of undercut to the types and numbers of fish found at the ledge. This information can help prioritize reef areas for management.
For example, gag and scamp, two grouper species prized by recreational fishermen, are nearly always present at ledges extending from a wall or structure by 12-18 inches – a ledge type that represents only a tiny fraction of limestone ledges in the sanctuary. Red snapper are typically present near ledges extending a minimum of 27 inches, a ledge type that also represents only a small portion of the limestone ledges in the sanctuary.
Kendall and his colleagues are not only mapping the relative value of Gray’s Reef habitat for various fish communities, but also tracking how fish move around the sanctuary. Over the last two years, Kendall and his team have implanted tracking devices in fish which are being used in conjunction with sensors placed throughout part of the sanctuary.
These sensors will help them understand, for example, which fish are “homebodies” and which fish travel more widely. The data so far reveals that grouper tend to stay close to their preferred ledges, while snapper venture farther from their home territory.
The team’s research not only has implications for the management of Gray’s Reef Sanctuary, but also for the management of reefs throughout the South Atlantic region. “If the fish have these kinds of specific relationships to the bottom habitat at Gray’s Reef, there is no reason to think that these same relationships don’t exist elsewhere in the southeastern United States,” Kendall said.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.
John Ewald | EurekAlert!
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
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...
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...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences