While tracking movement patterns of several reef fish species, the
Keys Finfish Research team is evaluating the function of marine
reserves throughout the Dry Tortugas National Park and surrounding
Fort Jefferson at
Dry Tortugas National Park
Movement patterns and spatial range of several grouper and snapper
species are the subjects of a study begun in May 2008 in the Dry
Tortugas region. The Keys Finfish Research team is using the data
to evaluate the effectiveness and connectivity of marine reserves
throughout the Dry Tortugas National Park and surrounding waters.
|A grouper's abdomen is stitched closed
after insertion of the tag.
Acoustic tags are inserted into select species of fishes trapped
and hooked throughout the park. Individuals caught in shallow
waters are brought to the boat, and an acoustic tag is surgically
inserted into each fish's abdominal cavity. The fish is then
monitored and, when considered strong enough, released back onto
the reef. For fish caught in deeper waters, divers perform the
surgery to reduce the possibility of pressure-related injuries to
An array of 64 acoustic receivers has been distributed
throughout the Dry Tortugas region to document the movements of
these tagged fish. When a fish swims close by, a receiver records
the tag's unique identification number. The receivers cover
approximately 800 square kilometers, or about 309 square miles, and
are placed to measure both small-scale movement and long-range
migrations of tagged fish through a variety of depths and types of
acoustic receiver in the Dry Tortugas.
is one of the
species tagged for this study.
As of spring of 2011, 118 fish had been tagged. Some species, such
as mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis), demonstrate strong
seasonal connectivity to certain areas of the park. The tags can
last several years, allowing scientists to continue to track the
movement of these fish and gain a more complete understanding of
how these animals use their surroundings.
To learn more about our telemetry studies, visit the Acoustic Telemetry