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Connectivity mediated by seasonal bonefish (Albula vulpes) migration between the Caribbean Sea and a tropical estuary of Belize and Mexico

  • Addiel U. Perez
  • Juan J. Schmitter-Soto
  • Aaron J. Adams
  • William D. Heyman
Article

Abstract

Bonefish (Albula vulpes) are an important resource for catch-and-release fishing in the Caribbean Sea. Understanding movements within and between the Caribbean Coast (CC) and Chetumal-Corozal Bay (CB) in Mexico and Belize is crucial for identifying and protecting home ranges, migration routes, pre-spawning and spawning sites. We used a mixed-methods approach to document dynamics of bonefish movement. We collected fishers’ local knowledge (LK) using qualitative methods including workshops, key informant interviews, participant observation and field notes about bonefish seasonal movements. We then used mark-recapture (8816 tagged, 569 recaptured) method to understand bonefish movements by size, location and season. Bonefish were significantly larger in CC than in CB. We documented several seasonal movement patterns. A southward movement within CB during the rainy season was likely driven by salinity changes. This was followed by an eastward long-distance migration during the norths or cold front season between the bay and the Caribbean Sea, likely for spawning, as we document likely spawning readiness, pre-spawning behavior and synchronized to the fore-reef at one of two pre-spawning aggregation sites in a World Heritage Site in the CC of Belize during November and December of 2018. There was then a northward movement during the dry season as a journey back to home ranges. The information presented herein can inform resource management and protected areas planning towards a bi-national conservation and management of bonefish and its habitats.

Keywords

Mark-recapture Local knowledge (LK) Sport fisheries Albulidae Pre-spawning Fisheries management 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Funding sources were the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, via project No. 242558, and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. We thank many fishers, students, and guides, especially Roberto Herrera, Omar Arceo, Jose Polanco, Geovanni Ortega, Jon-Pierre Windsor, Felipe Martínez, Antonio Aguilar, Fernando Aguilar, Julio Cárdenas, Rudy Castellanos, David González, Yasmin González, Norman Mercado, Axel Schmitter, Martha Valdez, fishing lodges El Pescador and Costa de Cocos, Acocote Inn and Flats Fly-Fishing Guides Services and Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development. We also thank Janneth Padilla for study area map and the Ethics Committee at ECOSUR. Research permits PPF/DGOPA-053/15 in Mexico and 000008-16 in Belize.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)ChetumalMexico
  2. 2.Bonefish and Tarpon TrustCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute 5600 IS-1Fort PierceUSA
  4. 4.LGL Ecological Research Associates, Inc.BryanUSA

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