A Pilot Study of Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus Walbaum 1792) Movement in the Conch Reef Research Only Area (Northern Florida Keys)

James Lindholm1,2, Ashley Knight2, Les Kaufman3 and Steven Miller4
1Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
2Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research
3Boston University Marine Program
4National Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina

A Pilot Study of Hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus Walbaum 1792) Movement in the Conch Reef Research Only Area (Northern Florida Keys) (pdf, 568K)

The largely sedentary behavior of many fishes on coral reefs is well established. Information on the movement behavior of individual fish, over fine temporal and spatial scales, however, continues to be limited. It is precisely this type of information that is critical for evaluating the success of marine reserves designed for the conservation and/or management of vagile fishes. In this pilot study we surgically-tagged eight hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus Walbaum 1792) with coded-acoustic transmitters inside the Conch Reef Research Only Area (a no-take marine reserve) in the northern Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Our primary objective was to characterize the movement of L. maximus across Conch Reef in the vicinity of the reserve.

All fish were captured, surgically-tagged and released in situ during a saturation mission to the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory, which is located in the center of the reserve. Movement of tagged L. maximus was recorded for up to 95 days by three acoustic receivers deployed on the seafloor. Results showed clear diel patterns in L. maximus activity and regular movement among the receivers was recorded for seven of the eight tagged fish. Fidelity of tagged fish to the area of release was high when calculated at the scale of days, while within-day fidelity was comparatively low when calculated at the scale of hours.

While the number of fish departures from the array also varied, the majority of departures for seven of the eight fish did not exceed 1-hr (with the exception of one 47-day departure), suggesting that when departures occurred, the fish did not travel far. Future efforts will significantly expand the number of receivers at Conch Reef such that fish movement behavior relative to the reserve boundaries can be quantified with increased temporal and spatial resolution.

Keywords: Hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus, acoustic telemetry, fish movement patterns, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

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