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Free Content Tagging Studies and Diver Observations of Fish Populations on Live-Bottom Reefs of the U.S. Southeastern Coast

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Tagging studies and visual observations of reef fishes were conducted off the southeast coast of the United States between 1972 and 1980 to determine population parameters independent of those obtained from fishery statistics. From 1972 to 1975, 4,150 reef fishes were tagged during 148 fishing trips off North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Only 29 were recaptured. All recaptures were within 24 km of the tagging site. During 65 additional trips where 2,736 reef fishes were tagged during an intensive tagging study on a single reef off North Carolina from 1975 to 1977, 121 (4.4%) were recaptured. Only one tagged fish, a black sea bass, Centropristis striata, was caught away (9.7 km) from the tagging site. A mark-recapture, multiple census estimate of the black sea bass population was 33 times smaller than that made by SCUBA divers during the same period. Exploitation estimates of black sea bass indicated that they were underexploited in these waters in 1976. Eighty-seven species of reef fishes were observed by divers. Some of these species, such as red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, and vermilion snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens, apparently vacated the reef when the water temperature dropped below 16°C. Others, such as red porgy, Pagrus pagrus, white grunt, Haemulon plumieri, grouper, and juvenile vermilion snapper, apparently moved off the reef when the water temperature dropped below 11°C, only to return when temperatures warmed. Young-of-the-year fishes were observed on the reef between mid-May and mid-July when the bottom water temperature ranged from 20.5 to 27.0°C.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1990-05-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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