Apex predators target mutton snapper spawning aggregation

Coral Reefs (Impact Factor: 3.62). 06/2012; DOI: 10.1007/s00338-012-0921-0
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    ABSTRACT: This study confirms reports by fishermen of a large and predictable aggregation of whale sharks Rhincodon typus along the Belize Barrier Reef. Although whale sharks are rarely sighted at this location during most of the year, we counted as many as 25 whale sharks in a 50 m diameter area on 1 occasion and tagged 6 sharks during a 22 min period on another. The whale shark aggregation coincides seasonally and temporally with a multispecies reef-fish spawning aggregation at a reef promontory, Gladden Spit, at sunset, during the full and last- quarter moon periods of April and May each year. We report here, for the first time, that whale sharks feed on the freshly released spawn of cubera snappers Lutjanus cyanopterus and dog snappers L, jocu (Lutjanidae), and have documented the phenomenon with still and digital video photography of hundreds of feeding events. There is consensus locally that this remarkable interaction is in need of immediate protection from overfishing of snappers and unregulated tourism development. Our continued investigations are providing management recommendations for a new marine reserve at the site.
    Marine Ecology Progress Series 01/2001; 215:275-282. · 2.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Scientific information on reef fish spawning aggregation fisheries is sparse in light of numerous regional declines and extirpations from overexploitation. Fisher interviews of the small-scale commercial mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) spawning aggregation fishery at Gladden Spit, Belize, suggests a historic decadal decline. The reported trend is supported by analysis of inter-seasonal catch and effort and yield (2000–2002) that reveals a 59% decline in catch per unit effort (CPUE) and a 22% decrease in mean landings per boat. Declining population-level trends are also supported by a significant decrease in inter-annual median lengths of mutton snappers (2000–2006). These findings demonstrate the need for additional life history information that includes length-associated age and details on growth to provide clearer support of the effects on, and responses by, populations following fishing. In view of the historical changes to mutton snapper CPUE and landings at Gladden Spit and the fishery-associated declines in fish spawning aggregations observed globally, a precautionary approach to spawning aggregation management is warranted that provides full protection from fishing to enhance population persistence. The findings also highlight the need for substantially greater enforcement and long-term fisheries monitoring under a comprehensive regional management strategy.
    Coral Reefs 05/2008; 27(2):311-319. · 3.62 Impact Factor


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Aug 5, 2014