Volume 59

Do bonefish (Albula vulpes) use mangroves for protection from predators following catch-and-release angling?

Danylchuk, A.J., Danylchuk, S.E., Cooke, T., Goldberg, T., Koppelman, J., Philipp, D.P.
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Date: November, 2006

Pages: 417-422

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Nine Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Belize City

Country: Belize


Bonefish (Albula spp.) inhabit shallow tropical and subtropical mangrove environments world wide and are economically important due to their popularity among recreational anglers. Despite their importance as sportfish, very little is known about the biology and ecology of bonefish. In particular, little information is available on how voluntary catch-and-release angling practices affect the behavior and survival of individual fish and the fishery as a whole. The purpose of this study was to examine how different angling, handling, and release techniques affect the short-term post-release survival of bonefish inhabiting mangrove creeks in Eleuthera, The Bahamas. A total of 87 bonefish were angled, released, and visually tracked using small surface floats. A total of 15 (17%) bonefish were preyed upon by either juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) or great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) within the one hour observation period following release. Bonefish released near protective mangrove cover did not experience a decrease in short-term predation risk. In addition, 17 (20%) of bonefish following release were observed swimming into open water (> 2.5 m deep) rather than staying in close proximity of mangrove cover. These results indicate that mangroves themselves may not act as a refuge from predation for bonefish. Handling practices employed by anglers may play a more important role in the short-term survival of bonefish following release than the location anglers choose to release their catch

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