Long-term residency and movements of yellowmouth barracuda (Sphyraena viridensis) at a shallow seamount
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The yellowmouth barracuda Sphyraena viridensis, a highly mobile predator, is considered a migratory seasonal visitor to the Azores Islands by local fishers. This perception is challenged here through a combined analysis of multi-annual commercial landings, underwater visual census and telemetry data from acoustically tagged fish to investigate the long-term movement patterns and residency (up to 4 years) in a seamount marine reserve. Although the landing patterns suggested a strong seasonal variation in abundance, the visual census and the telemetry experiment results were consistent with year-round residency in the Azores. Barracudas occurred consistently in underwater census throughout the year, and most tagged fish were almost continuously detected at the seamounts for up to four consecutive years. Detection probability did, however, decrease over time and showed seasonal variability as tagged fish were less mobile with longer absences during summer and fall. Given the intrinsic vulnerability of fish aggregations to exploitation, our results highlight the need to protect shallow seamount habitats and preserve sexually mature fish aggregations and their reproductive potential, contributing to the sustainable management and conservation of these vulnerable ecosystems.
KeywordsPelagic Fish Marine Reserve Jack Mackerel Receiver Array Commercial Landing
We thank T. Morato, F. Cardigos, N. Serpa, M. Santos, J. Sousa, G. Graça, M. Machete, J. Botelho and the crews of R/V “Arquipélago” and R/V “Águas Vivas” for their help with field work; F. Tempera, R. Medeiros and G. Graça for providing data and support in the production of bathymetric maps; J. Santos for telemetry database management; and Mara Schmiing for helping with the statistical modeling. A special thank is due to R. S. Santos for stimulating discussions and for his continued support to this research. FCT/MCTES-MEC provided individual support to J.F., M.S. and P.A. (SFRH/BD/12788/2003, SFRH/BPD/66532/2009, SFRH/BD/66117/2009, SFRH/BPD/27057/2006 and Ciência 2008/POPH/QREN). IMAR-DOP/UAz is UI&D #531 and Associated Laboratory LARSyS funded by FCT/MEC and Azorean DRCTC (OE, COMPETE, Pro-Convergência). This study had the support of Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), through the strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE. This paper is a contribution to the projects MARMACII (INTERREG/05/MAC/4.2/A4), SEAMOV (PTDC/MAR/108232/2008) and MoniZec (DRCT/0281M2.1.2/I/018/2011) and received additional funding through the FCT/MCTES and DRCT “Reequipamento” programs. Research in this study was conducted in agreement with Azorean and Portuguese laws and legal requirements for the handling of vertebrate animals.
This study was funded through the contributions of IMAR-DOP/UAz and LARSyS funded by FCT/MCTES and DRCTC (OE, COMPETE, Pro-Convergência). FCT/MCTES-MEC provided individual support to J.F., M.S. and P.A. (SFRH/BD/12788/2003, SFRH/BPD/66532/2009, SFRH/BD/66117/2009, SFRH/BPD/27057/2006 and Ciência 2008/POPH/QREN).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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