During the full moon in December 2016, a research team led by Krista Sherman (University of Exeter/Shedd Aquarium) and Dr. Craig Dahlgren (Perry Institute for Marine Science/Bahamas National Trust) conducted surveys, tagged and sampled Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) around Long Island, Bahamas. Some of the objectives of this trip were to: conduct surveys at historic spawning aggregations and to surgically implant the remaining acoustic transmitters in the abdomens of Nassau grouper.
December’s research trip was part of a long-term research study to better understand Nassau grouper movements and to monitor the status of spawning aggregations. Researchers wanted to understand how Nassau grouper move within spawning aggregations and to assess the relative contribution of Nassau groupers within the Exuma Land and Sea Park to spawning off Long Island. Additionally, researchers visited a spawning aggregation site to observe how this site has changed over the past 7 years.
Why is this important?
We know that Nassau grouper form large aggregations each year during one or more winter full moons. It is during these winter months when Nassau grouper are most vulnerable to unsustainable harvesting. As a result, the Bahamian government has implemented a closed Nassau grouper season December 1st – February 28th.
Ongoing research will continue to inform Nassau grouper policy and conservation decisions.
What did researchers find?
Monitoring of the aggregation site shows low levels of fish and spawning activity with persistent poaching. Results related to the study to better understand the contribution of Nassau grouper within the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park to spawning site off Long Island, will be available in June 2017. Results regarding Nassau grouper movement within spawning aggregations will be available around February 2018.