Fish spawning aggregations are incredibly important events that support many fish populations in marine ecosystems. During the previous months, the RMP research team has been monitoring two FSA sites on the island of Roatan. These sites are important for the resilience of the species and for the sustainability of most fisheries around the world. RMP received a donation of two underwater drones from the Wildlife Conservation Society; these drones have also been used to monitor the sites. The research team is working on a new methodology using these underwater drones to study sites that are not easily reached by professional divers. Studying FSAs can sometimes be dangerous because these sites are found very deep and in places with strong currents. Working with underwater drones will allow the team to study FSA sites that haven’t been studied due to their difficulty, this can close the knowledge gap Honduras has regarding FSAs. So far our study has yielded important information regarding tiger groupers, their numbers and spawning behavior. This information will help decision-makers understand the best way to manage and protect these species. These reproductive aggregation sites are critical life-cycle events for all marine species that engage in this behavior because it is the only time for the species to reproduce and ensure their next generations. Protecting FSAs in the Bay Islands will positively influence the health of the reefs and will support commercially important fisheries into the future.
Photo credit: Caroline Powers