This paper examined the genetic source of the invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish in the Bahamas. Many of the samples used in this study were collected during REEF's lionfish research trips during 2007 and 2008. Two species, Pterois volitans and P. miles, were well established along the United States east coast before the first lionfish were reported from the Bahamas in 2004, where they quickly dispersed throughout the archipelago by 2007. The source of the Bahamian lionfish invasion has been in question because of the hypothesized low connectivity between Florida and Bahamas reef species as well as the temporal lag in their arrival in the Bahamas. The results showed no significant differentiation between the Bahamas and North Carolina specimens. Sequence analyses also revealed the presence of only Pterois volitans in the Bahamas, with no P. miles detected in any of the specimens. These results indicate that the source of the Bahamian lionfish is egg and larval dispersal from the United States east coast population, and support previous models of reef fish dispersal that suggest a low level of connectivity between the Bahamas and east coast of Florida.
This report summarizes several years of work on Goliath Grouper to provide an understanding of adult ecology and behavior so that the population could be managed sustainably. REEF data were used to provide information on distribution patterns throughout the southeatern US and regional densities in Florida. The authors found high concordance between their quantitative reef survey data and the categorical abundance data collected by REEF volunteers, thus reducing uncertainty about use of REEF's population data for future stock assessments.
This was a predecision document prepared by NOAA’s Fisheries Service to evaluate the population status of five species of rockfish in the Puget Sound. REEF data were one of several datasets that were used by the fisheries scientists to make the evaluation. Based on the analyses, NOAA Fisheries proposed to list three populations of rockfish in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Georgia Basin populations of two of the rockfish species – canary and yelloweye – are proposed for “threatened” status. A third rockfish species – bocaccio – is proposed as “endangered.” Populations of all three rockfish species in the Georgia Basin, which encompasses Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, have been harvested at high levels, depleting their numbers. Rockfish, which are bottom dwellers, typically live long lives, and mature and reproduce slowly, making them especially vulnerable to overfishing. A final decision on the three will be made in the Spring 2010.
This paper is the result of a workshop held at University of Washington in 2008 on nearshore rocky reefs. REEF Director of Science, Dr. Christy Pattengill-Semmens, presented data collected by REEF surveyors in the Pacific Northwest, and some details from that talk are in this paper. Nearshore temperate reefs are highly diverse and productive habitats that provide structure and shelter for a wide variety of fishes and invertebrates. Recreational and commercial fisheries depend on nearshore reefs, which also provide opportunities for non-extractive recreational activities such as diving. Many inhabitants of nearshore temperate reefs on the west coast of North America have very limited home ranges as adults, and recent genetic evidence indicates that the dispersion of the larval stages is often restricted to tens of kilometers. Management of temperate reef resources must be organized on very small spatial scales in order to be effective, offering unique technical challenges in terms of assessment and monitoring. New enabling legislation could assist in specifying mandates and adjusting institutional design to allow stakeholders and concerned citizens to formulate management policies at local levels, and to aid in implementing and enforcing these policies.
This publication describes a new (to science) species of coral reef wrasse found by REEF surveyors at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). This species was nicknamed the "Mardi Gras wrasse" by sanctuary staff due to the bright purple, yellow and green coloration of the terminal male phase. The fish was originally discovered at the East Flower Garden Bank by members of a REEF survey team in 1997, and has been periodically observed (primarily at Stetson Bank) since that time. Subsequent investigation by Doug Weaver and sanctuary staff confirmed that it was in fact a previously undescribed species of wrasse. The scientific name of the species is Halichoeres burekae, in honor of FGBNMS photographers Frank and Joyce Burek, who obtained the first photograph of the fish. The Mardi Gras wrasse has also since been reported from the Veracruz region of Mexico.
Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) were historically one of the most important shallow water fisheries in the Caribbean, yet now are rarely taken. Although normally solitary, during the winter full moon Nassau grouper attend aggregations at spawning site to reproduce. Now, however, there are only a handful of known Nassau Grouper aggregations with more than 1,000 fish left in the Caribbean. Why has the species declined so precipitously, and what can be done to reverse the trend? These topics were explored during a presentation given by Grouper Moon researchers at the 2007 Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute conference. The researchers presented recent and on-going research into the behavior and ecology of Nassau Grouper as part of the Grouper Moon Project, and highlight the conservation implications of this work. They also discussed critical research needs in the ongoing effort to identify prudent conservation measures for this species, including:
i) Habitat capacity – work to link Nassau grouper abundance/distributions with key habitat charac- teristics,
ii) Depensation – investigate spawning behaviors in places where spawning aggregations have been fished to exhaustion, and
iii) Recruitment variability – conduct genetic and otolith analyses to gain a better handle on relatedness of spawning stocks and the periodicity of recruitment pulses.
From Florida's Atlantic Coast Including Dry Tortugas
REEF data were used to provide a fisheries independant index for use in the mutton snapper stock assessment conducted by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Councils as part of the SEDAR process. Three indices were calculated with different subsets of the REEF dive surveys: an index based on all dives on Florida’s Atlantic coast; an index based on sites that were visited by divers on at least seven of the 13 years, i.e. more than half, and at which mutton snapper were observed more than once; an index that used a logistic regression of presence or absence of species on the dives to calculate the probability that a dive would observe mutton snapper.
The authors evaluated Goliath Grouper’s use of mangroves as essential nursery habitat by estimating absolute abundance, density, survival, age structure, home range, mangrove habitat association, habitat quality, and recruitment to the adult population. REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project data from 1993 to 2004 collected in Florida were used to determine sighting frequency of Goliath Grouper. These data were then compared with the abundance of two major estuarine habitat types in coastal Florida, mangrove habitat and seagrass habitat. The authors found that the abundance of adult Goliath Grouper at offshore sites was largely explained by abundance of mangrove, but not seagrass habitat. These findings point to the importance of mangroves as nursery habitat.
This paper describes two new species of goby that were discovered by REEF surveyors during a special training project in the Veracruz Marine Park in Mexico in 2003. Individuals of the two mystery gobies were photographed by REEF's Lad Akins. In cooperation with the marine park, specimens were collected and subsequently described as new species by Dr. Mike Taylor. The new finds include a neon-type goby that hovers in shoals above coral heads (Jarocho Goby, Elacatinus jarocho) and a tiger-striped goby that rests on rocks and coral (Cinta Goby, Elacatinus redimiculus). Both species are currently only known from reefs in southwestern Gulf of Mexico.
This paper summarized the first five years of monitoring of the Little Cayman West End aggregation, including a summary of spawning activity, total numbers of fish present at the aggregation each year, coloration, and behavior.