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Investigating the behavioural responses of trapped fishes using underwater video surveillance

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An underwater video surveillance system known as TrapCam was used to continuously record (15 ×c. 24 h periods) fish behaviour within and immediately surrounding an experimental fish trap situated in a coral reef ecosystem in the United States Virgin Islands. Of the 100 fishes (18 species, 12 families) trapped, surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) and snappers (Lutjanidae) were most common. Thirteen distinctively identifiable behaviours were observed for trapped fishes. Species did not differ significantly in the proportion of time allocated to different behaviours (ANOSIM, R = 0·142). Doctorfish Acanthurus chirurgus and grey angelfish Pomacanthus arcuatus allocated the largest proportion of their recorded time to enter and exit the trap. Fishes spent an average of 15 min in the trap before escaping. Sixty‐seven per cent of trap approaches consisted of an individual of the same species as one already trapped suggesting that conspecific attraction may have occurred. Fifteen per cent of trapped species were observed with abrasions to the head and 70% were observed approaching the trap corners. The results of this study provide a greater understanding of the behavioural interactions between fishes and traps that can help explain patterns of catch composition, the physical condition of fishes in traps and inform design of gear modifications to optimize by‐catch reduction in the trap fishery.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: 2012-10-01

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