Bonefish do not spawn just anywhere. Certain locations provide the conditions for better survival of offspring than others. Our research efforts over the past two years have successfully documented when and where adult bonefish go to spawn around Grand Bahama Island (GBI).
Highlights from our analysis so far includes:
- We detected only three pre-spawning aggregation sites, with many fish going there multiple times during the study (late October 2014 – early June 2015).
- The longest migration was one of at least 189 miles round trip from Dover Sound on the north side of GBI all the way to the south side of the island via East End.
- Several fish spawned at least five times during the study.
- Two fish used more than one of the three pre-spawning aggregation sites.
- None of our fish that were tagged in GBI were detected on any of the six receivers deployed in Abaco or the two receivers deployed well south of the east end of GBI, suggesting that the Bonefish in GBI remain there for spawning.
Spearheaded by Dr. Karen Murchie (Shedd Aquarium in Chicago), the results of our work have been published in a Special Issue on Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit in the scientific journal Environmental Biology of Fishes:
“Defining adult bonefish (Albula vulpes) movement corridors around Grand Bahama in the Bahamian Archipelago,” by Karen J. Murchie, Aaron D. Shultz, Jeffrey A. Stein, Steven J. Cooke, Justin Lewis, Jason Franklin, Greg Vincent, Julie E. Claussen, David P. Philipp
See the full article here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10641-015-0422-4
So, why is this important? The findings that there are only three pre-spawning aggregation sites (and hence three spawning locations) around the entire island of Grand Bahama has serious implications for bonefish conservation efforts: Bonefish do not spawn just anywhere. Certain locations provide the conditions for better survival of offspring than others. As a result, it is extremely important to guard the three aggregation sites (locations being kept confidential to protect the bonefish that spawn there) against both illegal fishing activities and commercial development that could alter the habitat. We are sharing the results of our study with the Bahamas National Trust and the Government of The Bahamas to work toward the long-term protection of bonefish populations.