Recovery bags reduce post-release impairments in locomotory activity and behaviour of bonefish (Albula spp.) following exposure to angling-related stressors

Jacob W Brownscombe, Jason Thiem, Charles Hatry, Felicia Cull, Christopher R Haak, Andy J Danylchuk, Steven J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bonefish (Albula spp.) are a group of species targeted by recreational anglers in shallow tropical and sub-tropical seas worldwide. Although bonefish angling is almost entirely catch-and-release, mortality can occur because the stress associated with angling and handling causes locomotory impairment that promotes post-release predation. We used tri-axial accelerometer loggers to compare the locomotor activity and behavior of bonefish exposed to angling-related stressors and immediately released (n = 10, 39.9 ± 1.1 cm FL), to those retained in a recovery bag for 15 min prior to release (n = 10, 39.6 ± 1.0 cm FL) in a tidal creek in Eleuthera, The Bahamas. We also validated the use of reflex action mortality predictors (RAMP) as an impairment index for evaluating bonefish condition upon release. Following release, bonefish were visually tracked for 30 min with floats to evaluate short-term survival, after which the accelerometer was retrieved. Bonefish held in recovery bags exhibited significantly less locomotory impairment immediately post-release, and higher maximum tail beat frequencies and amplitudes up to 15 min post-release, which was likely due to the time spent in the recovery bag. Bonefish in the recovery bag treatment also spent more time resting in possible refuge areas, which may facilitate further recovery and avoidance from predation. RAMP provided a gradient of impairment scores that were correlated with stressor duration. Retaining bonefish in recovery bags improved swimming abilities during the critical time period where the majority of post-release predation occurs, and one fish that was not placed in the recovery bag was preyed upon during the monitoring period. Further testing is needed to determine if the locomotory and behavioral benefits of retaining bonefish in recovery bags translate into improved survival from predation in more predator rich environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Volume440
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

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