Eleuthera Acoustic Tracking Study Summary

Cape Eleuthera is the location of the groundbreaking studies that first reported that bonefish form pre-spawning aggregations along the southern coast and spawn at night near the deepwater drop-offs (see However, little is known about bonefish movements throughout the rest of the island.

Map of five regions dividing Eleuthera into bonefish tagging areas.

The Fisheries Conservation Foundation and several partner organizations (see below) have expanded their effort to use island-wide bonefish movements in an effort to locate all of the spawning aggregations in Eleuthera, Georgiana Burruss (Michigan State University) is leading these efforts to address the following questions:

  1. Where are bonefish forming spawning aggregations in the five regions of interest on Eleuthera?
  2. How do abiotic factors (season, moon phase, temperature, current, tide, etc.) influence bonefish spawning migrations in South Eleuthera?
  3. What is the energetic cost of spawning migrations?
  4. How do predators interact with the bonefish spawning aggregation?

The design of the acoustic array is allowing the team to answer questions related to how abiotic factors (current, moon phase, seasonality, tide) influence bonefish spawning, how predators, such as great barracuda, Sphyraena barracuda, and blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus, interact with the aggregation, the level of energy expenditure of migrating bonefish to their spawning site, and potentially insights on the physical act of spawning.
Collectively, findings from this study will be used to develop a management and conservation framework for bonefish and predatory species surrounding Eleuthera, The Bahamas.


Georgiana Burruss is conducting this study as part of her MSc thesis at Michigan State University along with the following partners: Fisheries Conservation Foundation (FCF), Cape Eleuthera Institute, Hutchins Family Foundationthe Sport Fish Ecology Lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Extra thanks to Cocoloba ToursFishbone Tours, and the Rainbow Inn for their support in the form of lodging and guiding.


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