Connectivity, Habitat Utilization, and Post-Release Survival of Adult Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) in Chesapeake Bay and Surrounding Waters

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 8:40 AM
Manning (The Marriott Little Rock)
John Graves , Department of Fisheries Science, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester point, VA
Andrij Z. Horodysky , Department of Marine and Environmental Science, Hampton University, Hampton, VA
To better understand seasonal movements, habitat use and post-release survival of adult red drum Sciaenops ocellatus in coastal waters along lower Chesapeake Bay, we tagged 17 fish released from the recreational fishery with pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) programmed for 30 to 180 days.   Sixteen of 17 tags deployed in late spring at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay reported; eight were physically retrieved, allowing recovery of 100% of their archived data. All 16 fish survived throughout their respective tagging periods, including three deeply-hooked individuals.  For the first 30 d following release, fish remained in shallow waters (0- 15 m) near tagging locations (net displacements < 46.5 km).  By mid-late summer, tagged individuals used deeper (25 – 45 m) stratified waters up to 20 km off the Virginia/North Carolina coast; subsequent early fall collections of larvae entering Chesapeake Bay suggest these offshore movements may be related to spawning.  Red drum returned to Chesapeake Bay or seaside inlets in September, and moved south into deeper coastal waters off of NC in early November.  Relative to inferences made from conventional tag data, the PSAT data demonstrate a high post-release survival of red drum, and high connectivity between the Virginia and North Carolina fisheries.