Volume 68

Where Have They Been Hiding? Spatial Distributions and Ontogenetic Movements of Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) in the State of Florida

Tzadik, O., D. Jones, E. Peebles, and C. Stallings
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Date: November, 2015

Pages: 267 - 268

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty eigth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Panama City

Country: Panama


Essential nursery habitats (ENH) are characterized as those which have the greatest contribution to the adult spawning-population (Beck et al. 2001). Such habitats are critical towards the recovery of depleted stocks as they contribute dispro-portionally to the fitness of the population (Dahlgren et al. 2006). Indeed, the recovering status of the Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) in the state of Florida may have resulted from the protection of the mangrove habitat within the ten thousand island region, thought to be the most productive nursery of Goliath Groupers in the world (Koenig et al. 2007). In the current study, we set out to identify and classify the ENHs of Goliath Groupers in southern Florida via non-lethal methods. Using fin rays as an alternative to otoliths for microchemical analyses, we were able to employ a method with no effects on the growth or survival of the sampled individuals (Zymonas and McMahon 2006). Considering the implications towards the recovery of depleted stocks, we set out to test the limits of spatial characterizations of nursery habitats via the microchemical analyses of fin rays. The data presented in the current study should be used as a baseline for future studies that can trace individuals back to their exact nurseries of origin.

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