Miami FL (SPX) Nov 23, 2010
This October more than 60 guides and anglers in the Florida Keys poled across the flats from Biscayne Bay to the Marquesas, assisting in the annual bonefish census.
This year's count, held in extremely difficult weather with lowered visibility, was down by 25-percent from an 8-year mean estimate of 316,805 bonefish to a new low of about 240,000 bonefish, according to Professor Jerry Ault, a fisheries scientist with the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
"Since 2003 we have conducted an annual bonefish census throughout the Keys," said Ault. "It provides researchers, like me, and fisheries managers with an early warning system to identify trends and population changes."
This year guides saw fewer bonefish in historically productive areas, a possible reflection of real population changes coupled with differences in the coastal environment. Future counts will be looking for evidence of this as an emerging population trend.
"Bonefish are a good indicator of overall ecological health. These highly mobile fish feed on small marine organisms at the base of the food chain like shrimps, crabs and baitfish; thus, the health of the bonefish population is greatly dependent on the status of the ecosystem as a whole.
"A change in the population is likely to signal greater issues throughout the coastal ecosystem and provide clues that we can study and address before the situation becomes critical," Ault added.
Ault suggests that if bonefish abundance did decline in 2010, it is still too early to pinpoint the reasons.
However, he points out that last winter's January extended cold wave was particularly lethal to tropical gamefish species including tarpon, snook and bonefish, and to their prey. Water temperatures dipped as low as 44oF for periods of more than 3.5 days, and killed mostly small (and young) bonefish in Biscayne and Florida Bays.
The census, conducted in collaboration with local fishermen and guides, as well as the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT), and the Florida Keys Fishing Guide Associations, is important because bonefish are a major component of Florida's $5.5 billion sport-fishing industry. Based on past results, Ault estimates each bonefish in Florida is worth about $3,500 per year to the industry or about $75,000 over its lifetime.
"We are especially grateful to the guides and anglers of the Keys who continue to work closely with us because one of the great challenges we face is the lack of long-term historical data on the Florida bonefish population," said Tom Davidson, chairman of the BTT.
"The datasets we are now developing are just the beginning. We are still learning about natural variations in these dynamic systems, so we can't really be sure yet about the significance of these ups and downs. However, these types of major population fluctuations will ensure that we remain vigilant."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics
More than a million Atlantic sharks killed yearly: study
Paris (AFP) Nov 22, 2010
At least 1.3 million sharks, many listed as endangered, were harvested from the Atlantic in 2008 by industrial-scale fisheries unhampered by catch or size limits, according to a tally released Monday. The actual figure may be several fold higher due to under-reporting, said the study, released by advocacy group Oceana on the sidelines of a meeting of the International Commission for the Cons ... read more
Violence grips Haiti ahead of elections|
Violence grips Haiti ahead of elections
Gates backs crisis cells to aid Latin America in disasters
Chinese worker saved after 80 hours in underwater pipe
Google seeking Miramax films for YouTube: NY Post
Thales announces venture for Chinese in-flight systems
HP to focus more on software, new CEO says
Apple releases updated operating system update for iPad
Tinned tuna not always as labelled: report
Fall Bonefish Census Sounds Warning Bell That Warrants Careful Future Monitoring
More than a million Atlantic sharks killed yearly: study
Indonesia declares protected zone to save coral reefs
Operation IceBridge Completes Another Successful Antarctic Campaign
Delayed ice threatening Canada polar bears
As Arctic Temperatures Rise, Tundra Fires Increase
Drumlin Field Provides Answers About Glaciation And Climate
Gene Find Could Lead To Healthier Food And Better Biofuel
Rice production withers as Egypt diverts vital water supply
Chinese dairy raises the bar for cow-pat power
Jailed China milk campaigner seeks medical parole: report
Indonesia issues eruption alert for second volcano
Indonesia volcano death toll rises to 322
Safe water out of reach for poor Haitians
Indonesia volcano death toll passes 300
I. Coast army deploys in north ahead of election
Madagascan army crushes three-day mutiny
China, Angola sign agreements as vice-president Xi visits
Swazi life expectancy halved by AIDS, TB: health charity
Study Reveals Neural Basis Of Rapid Brain Adaptation
Single drop of blood could reveal age
Human Children Outpaced Neanderthals By Slowing Down
Paraguay nixes British expedition to remote tribal region
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|