Thursday, September 16, 2010: 3:20 PM
304 (Convention Center)
Bonefish (Albula spp) inhabit nearshore tidal flats throughout the tropical Western Atlantic. Although bonefish are the foundation of a lucrative catch-and-release fishery, conservation and management efforts are hindered by the dearth of information on the species’ fundamental life history characteristics, including age and growth. To date, age and growth analyses for bonefish have focused primarily on the Florida Keys, where anthropogenic factors such as fishing mortality and habitat degradation may be affecting population structure. In contrast, little information exists on the age and growth of bonefish in The Bahamas, where human-induced pressures are considerably fewer despite a rapidly growing tourism industry. The purpose of our study was to: 1) validate periodicity of growth increments for bonefish in The Bahamas, and 2) examine the age structure and growth rates of bonefish from different sites in the eastern Bahamas. Preliminary results suggest that growth increments are indeed formed annually. Based on the examination of a limited sample of otoliths in a prior study, we predict that bonefish in The Bahamas exhibit slower growth rates than have been observed in the Florida Keys. The identification of site-specific differences in growth rate may provide insight into the causes of variation at the regional scale.
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