For immediate release: July 27, 2009
Contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
Photo: Go to MyFWC.com and click on "Newsroom."
Biologists see spawning fish in Marine Protected Area
Biologists recently witnessed an extraordinary sight while conducting an underwater study of mutton snapper in the Florida Keys.
For the first time in Florida waters, scientists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of South Florida observed this species spawning in a Marine Protected Area in the Florida Keys. The site was established, in part, to protect spawning schools of snapper and grouper in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.
Mutton snapper is an important species to both recreational and commercial fisheries. When fish group together in large numbers to spawn, they are more vulnerable to fishing pressure. Allowing the fish to spawn without angler pressure will help sustain the fishery. The data collected from this study will help biologists understand the effectiveness of creating no-take Marine Protected Areas to protect a variety of sea life, including fish and coral reefs.
Biologists spotted the large school of spawning snapper while working on an acoustic tagging project. The purpose of this research is to obtain information regarding the movement, spawning and migratory habits of snappers and groupers. They conducted surgeries underwater at depths of up to 120 feet to implant acoustic tags inside the fish. Conducting the tagging at this ground-breaking depth causes less stress to the fish than bringing them to the surface by conventional hook-and-line methods to complete the surgeries.
Biologists will continue to receive data from the tagged fish for the next few years. This information will help them learn more about the movement, spawning and migratory habits of these fish.
For more information on FWRI's marine fisheries research, visit http://research.MyFWC.com.