BT&T Conducting Bahamas Bonefish Spawning Study

A prespawn aggregation of bonefish getting ready to move offshore to spawn. – Photo by Robbie Roemer

Studying these beautiful Bonefish and their spawning techniques.

During this bonefish spawning season in the Bahamas, from late October to early April, a team of scientists from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BT&T) and Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute completed two cruises to the Bahamas aboard the M/Y Albula. The trips were sponsored by the Fisheries Research Foundation.

The goals of these research cruises are to identify bonefish prespawning sites; track bonefish offshore to determine spawning locations and depth of spawning; link prespawning sites to bonefish home ranges; understand bonefish reproductive physiology; and to understand larval behavior and diet.

A highlight of the first two cruises included a large prespawn aggregation of bonefish, which during an overnight track remained near the surface from the time they left the prespawning location at dusk and then descended to 200 feet to spawn near dawn. Another bonefish, which was tagged at a prespawning aggregation was recaptured two months later on its home flat 65 miles away.

The information collected during these cruises will be used to protect additional prespawning and spawning sites, and to understand which prespawning sites are most important to which flats; and to understand what factors are most important for successful bonefish spawning, in order to focus on making sure conservation is correctly focused.

Bonefish from a prespawning aggregation porpoise at the surface as they get ready to move offshore. – Photo by Dr. Aaron Adams

Moving forward with more studies in the future.

As larval behavior is learned, it will be easier to anticipate where larvae travel after being spawned, which will help indicate which locations are most important for protection.

Two more cruises are scheduled for this spawning season. Pick up the spring BT&T Journal in March to read about the early findings of the study.

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