Conventional tagging and acoustic telemetry of a small surgeonfish, Zebrasoma flavescens, in a structurally complex coral reef environment
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Passive acoustic telemetry and conventional tag/re-sight techniques were used to study daily movement patterns of adult yellow tang, Zebrasoma flavescens, over a period of months. Range testing and visual observations revealed the limitations of using small acoustic transmitters to monitor movements of small coral reef fish in a topographically complex and noisy coral reef environment. Visual observations of conventionally tagged and albino fish suggest individuals return each day to forage over the same few hundred m2 of shallow, turf algae dominated boulder and reef flat habitat for periods of at least weeks to months. Acoustic telemetry data suggest lower frequency of repeated use of daytime foraging, nighttime refuge and sunset spawning sites. However, integration of observation and acoustic telemetry data revealed that many fish were not detected while they were within the empirically tested range of the receivers. These observations indicate that data from passive acoustic telemetry can underestimate the frequency and duration of repeated use of specific areas. Yellow tang adults made daily crepuscular migrations of up to 600 m between foraging and spawning or sheltering sites at consistent times relative to sunset and sunrise. While there was high individual variability in migration distance, almost all individuals moved in the same direction (from south to north) at sunset. This study provided valuable information for evaluating ongoing fishery management efforts using marine protected areas in Hawaii.