Movement of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, in the North Central Gulf of Mexico: Potential Effects of Hurricanes
Site fidelity and movement of red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, were estimated from a tagging study conducted off the coast of Alabama from March 1995 to January 1997. Red snapper were caught using rod and reel over nine artificial reef sites, with three reefs each located at 21-m, 27-m, and 32-m depths. During the study, 1,604 fish were tagged, and 174 recaptures were made of 167 individuals. On 4 October 1995, the eye of Hurricane Opal passed within 40 km of the artificial reef sites. When recaptures were stratified according to whether or not they were at liberty during Opal, storm effect was the most significant factor in predicting the likelihood of movement and magnitude of movement by tagged red snapper. Eighty percent of recaptured red snapper that were not at liberty during Opal were recaptured at their site of release. Fish that were at liberty during Opal, however, had a significantly higher likelihood of movement away from their site of release (P < 0.001). These fish also moved significantly further than those that were not at liberty during Opal (P < 0.001). Fish that were at liberty during Opal moved a mean distance (± SE) of 32.6 km (± 6.81), compared to a mean distance (± SE) of 2.5 km (± 1.10) for fish that were tagged and recaptured before Opal, and a mean distance (± SE) of 1.7 km (± 0.43) for fish that were tagged and recaptured after Opal. Heretofore, it has generally been accepted that adult red snapper demonstrate strong site fidelity and genetic homogeneity in the stock was hypothesized to result from larval drift or due to historic mixing on longer time scales. This study documents movement of adult red snapper on spatial scales that would facilitate stock mixing and implicates large-scale climatic events, such as hurricanes, as important factors in stock mixing dynamics.
Watterson, J., W. F. Patterson III, R. L. Shipp and J. H. Cowan Jr.
Movement of Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, in the North Central Gulf of Mexico: Potential Effects of Hurricanes.
Gulf of Mexico Science
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