Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) spawning aggregations: hydroacoustic surveys and geostatistical analysis

Taylor, J. Christopher and Eggleston, David B. and Rand, Peter S. (2006) Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) spawning aggregations: hydroacoustic surveys and geostatistical analysis. In: Emerging technologies for reef fisheries research and management. Seattle, WA, NOAA, pp. 18-25. (NOAA Professional Paper NMFS,5)

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Abstract

With the near extinction of many spawning aggregations of large grouper and snapper throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and tropical Atlantic, we need to provide baselines for their conservation. Thus, there is a critical need to develop techniques for rapidly assessing the remaining known (and unknown) aggregations. To this end we used mobile hydroacoustic surveys to estimate the density, spatial extent, and total abundance of a Nassau grouper spawning aggregation at Little Cayman Island, Cayman Islands, BWI. Hydroacoustic estimates of abundance, density, and spatial extent were similar on two sampling occasions. The location and approximate spatial extent of the Nassau grouper spawning aggregation near the shelf-break was corroborated by diver visual observations. Hydroacoustic density estimates were, overall, three-times higher than the average density observed by divers; however, we note that in some instances diver-estimated densities in localized areas were similar to hydroacoustic density estimates. The resolution of the hydroacoustic transects and geostatistical interpolation may have resulted in over-estimates in fish abundance, but still provided reasonable estimates of total spatial extent of the aggregation. Limitations in bottom time for scuba and visibility resulted in poor coverage of the entire Nassau grouper aggregation and low estimates of abundance when compared to hydroacoustic estimates. Although the majority of fish in the aggregation were well off bottom, fish that were sometimes in close proximity to the seafloor were not detected by the hydroacoustic survey. We conclude that diver observations of fish spawning aggregations are critical to interpretations of hydroacoustic surveys, and that hydroacoustic surveys provide a more accurate estimate of overall fish abundance and spatial extent than diver observations. Thus, hydroacoustics is an emerging technology that, when coupled with diver observations, provides a comprehensive survey method for monitoring spawning aggregations of fish.

Item Type: Book Section
Title: Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) spawning aggregations: hydroacoustic surveys and geostatistical analysis
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Taylor, J. Christopher
Eggleston, David B.
Rand, Peter S.
Title of Book: Emerging technologies for reef fisheries research and management.
Refereed: Yes
Series Name: NOAA Professional Paper NMFS
Number: 5
Number of Pages: 124
Page Range: pp. 18-25
Date: 2006
Publisher: NOAA
Place of Publication: Seattle, WA
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Ecology
Management
Fisheries
Item ID: 2484
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2009 22:59
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2014 01:06
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/2484

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