Visual surveys conducted in shallow-water (<10 m depth) reef habitats were used to compare juvenile epinepheline grouper density, size distribution, and diversity in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP), Bahamas and in the northern region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
(FKNMS). The community of juvenile groupers in an area closed to fishing (ECLSP) and in an area with extensive fisheries exploitation (FKNMS) were contrasted for specific reef habitats. Across habitats, the mean density of groupers was three times higher in the ECLSP compared to the FKNMS.
Sites in the FKNMS had a significantly lower grouper density. While the ECLSP site had a higher overall percent frequency of groupers in the larger size classes, there were no significant differences in the length-frequency distributions between the two areas. The composition of species observed
in each area was remarkably different and was attributed to differences in habitat requirements among species. At the FKNMS sites, graysby (Epinephelus cruentatus), red hind (E. guttatus), red grouper (E. moria), and black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) comprised
the majority of individuals observed. At the ECLSP sites, Nassau grouper (E. striatus) and coney (E. fulvus) were dominant. The survey results characterized reef types and the grouper community. This information is used to evaluate the value of Marine Fisheries Reserves (MFRs)
and their role in providing the reef habitats needed to protect juvenile groupers.
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.