Bonefish & Tarpon Trust: Bahamas Initiative
Presented by Justin Lewis
The bonefish (Albula vulpes) is an economically important sport fish in the Islands of the Bahamas and throughout its geographical range. Until recently little was known about the species movements and the effects of recreational angling. From 2009 through 2016, in collaboration with fishing guides and recreational anglers, we used mark-recapture to document bonefish movements. Over the course of the study 11,112 bonefish were tagged, and 576 recaptures. Bonefish have high site fidelity, with the majority (71.5%) being recaptured ≤1km from release site. However, they also exhibited long distance movements that appeared to be associated with spawning migrations due to the association with full and new moons during spawning season. Even though bonefishing is predominately a catch and release sport, findings from recent catch and release studies on bonefish have shown that improper catch and release practices such as excessive handling, use of boga grips, picture taking, and air exposure can significantly decrease the survival of bonefish post release, leaving them highly susceptible to predation. Through education BTT and our collaborators have been able to reach a reach a wide audience and teach them about bonefish home ranges, spawning migrations, and the importance of best catch and release practices and how essential these findings are for effective conservation of bonefish.