Behavioral Response of Select Reef Fishes to Pile Driving

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 10:40 AM
Pope (Statehouse Convention Center)
Joseph Iafrate , Environmental Division, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, RI
Stephanie Watwood , Environmental Division, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, RI
Eric Reyier , Ecological Program, NASA/ Inomedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, FL
Steven Crocker , Sensors and Sonar Systems, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, RI
Matthew Gilchrest , Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, RI
The potential effects of pile-driving on fish populations and fisheries have received significant attention with the prevalence of construction at in-shore areas throughout the world.  In this study, the movement and survival of free-ranging reef fish in Port Canaveral, Florida, in response to in-situ pile driving for 35 days at an existing wharf was examined through the use of acoustic telemetry.  Twenty-seven sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) and 13 mangrove snapper (Lutjanus griseus) were captured at two locations and monitored for approximately 11 months.  Underwater acoustic receivers were deployed within Port Canaveral to complement an existing array of compatible receivers spanning 300 kilometers along the east coast of Florida.  Baseline residency and diel patterns of movement were compared for fish in two adjacent locations with and without disturbance before, during, and after the event.  There was a significant decline in residency index for mangrove snapper at the construction wharf during pile-driving compared to before the event.  Long-term survivorship was demonstrated, with 16 of 25 fish tagged at the construction wharf detected three months post-tagging, and 11 fish detected six months post-tagging.  Although there was no apparent impact on patterns of distribution for these two tagged species, alterations on behavior of individual fish were noted, including displacement.