Volume 73

Movement Patterns of Juvenile Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) in two South Florida Estuaries

Ellis, R; E; D. Cox; E. Ault; S. Webb; P. Stevens
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 21-23

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Three Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Goliath Grouper populations in US waters have shown significant recovery following the closure of the fishery in 1990 but despite a higher abundance of adults offshore and juveniles inshore, the extent of this recovery is unknown. Most research efforts to date have focused on adults and their associated spawning aggregations, while less information exists on juveniles that utilize mangrove estuaries as nursery habitats. We tagged juvenile Goliath Grouper in three south Florida estuaries starting in 2017 using Vemco acoustic telemetry tags (V9 and V16; 440 days and 6.5 years battery life) to investigate habitat use and movement patterns. To date we have tagged 30 juveniles (size range = 502 – 1132 mm TL) in the St. Lucie River and adjacent Indian River Lagoon; 8 juveniles (216 – 1130 mm TL) in the Caloosahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor; and 22 juveniles (270 – 846 mm TL) in the Faka-Union Canal system and adjacent Pumpkin Bay in the Ten Thousand Islands. Here we present preliminary results of movements by these tagged fish. Tracking will continue through the duration of tag life as these fish undergo ontogenetic shifts in habitat utilization and the results will help elucidate the ecology and life history of this iconic species.

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