In 2006, researchers from Univeristy of North Carolina Willmington collaborated with Grouper Moon Project researchers from REEF and Cayman Island Department of Environment to conduct mobile hydroacoustic surveys on the Little Cayman spawning aggregation site. Hydroacoustics, which is similar to a fish finder device found on a recreational fishing boat, but with better resolution and technology, has emerged as a valuable tool in fishery population assessments. The goal of the study was to determine the utility of this emerging technology to assist in the estimation of density, spatial extent, and total abundance of a Nassau grouper. This report summarizes the field effort and findings.
Though declines in coral health have been documented worldwide, the effects of this decline on reef inhabitants are poorly studied. Studies monitoring fish abundances through coral declines are often inconclusive or contradictory in their results. This study uses fish assemblage data from REEF's database, as well as bleaching data compiled by ReefBase and reef health data collected by Reef Check, to correlate reef inhabitant abundance with bleaching events. Data are analyzed with respect to species, reef location, bleaching severity, and recovery time. Preliminary results show that the majority of species do not change in abundance following a bleaching event. Of those that do change, both increases and decreases are seen, and the direction of change, even within a single species, is often dependent on the time since the event. This suggests that a local decline in coral health may not have an immediate negative impact on the community and that a window of opportunity to preserve community structure following coral mortality may exist. This work was presented at the Summer 2006 International American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) meeting in Spain.
This paper evaluates two sets of fisheries-independant data on Goliath grouper populations in Florida. The datasets include the REEF Survey Project database and personal observations from a professional spearfisher. Because all harvest of this species was prohibted starting in 1990, fisheries-independant data like these are critical to understanding change in the populations, including any recovery that may be occuring. The paper also provides information on standarization techniquest that can be applied to the REEF data.
Report prepared for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, and the National Marine Fisheries Service
REEF data were one of three datasets used in the most recent stock assessment of the Goliath grouper, a species that is currently protected from harvest due to very low numbers in the 1980s. Because this species is not fished, fisheries managers must use fisheries-independent datasets and the REEF database represents a valuable source of this information.