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Track Atlantic bluefin tuna to learn migration, habitat secrets
Date:5/22/2012

AMHERST, Mass. New fish-tagging studies of young bluefin tuna in Atlantic waters off New England by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are offering the first fishery-independent, year-round data on dispersal patterns and habitat use for the popular game fish. The availability of miniaturized pop-up satellite tags suitable for smaller (two- to five-year-old) fish helped make the research possible.

Fisheries oceanographer Molly Lutcavage and lead author Benjamin Galuardi say the work shows that scientists now have tools to directly observe bluefin tuna annual migration patterns and vertical habitat use (depth) in the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans in detail not possible in earlier studies. This new information should lead to better understanding of bluefin tuna ecology, catch patterns and management of wild stocks that provide a multi-million dollar sport fishery from Maine to North Carolina.

Lutcavage, director of UMass Amherst's Marine Research Station and the Large Pelagics Research Center (LPRC) in Gloucester, says, "Our tagging data are important because for the first time we've got direct measurements of bluefin tuna movements and habitat associations. In other words, their travel routes, depth and temperature patterns, and where they intersect with recreational fisheries."

Galuardi, an LPRC scientist and doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Marine Science at UMass Dartmouth, led the analysis of data returned from pop-up satellite tags used in this study, as well as oceanographic conditions across bluefin migration paths. Details are reported in today's issue of the Public Library of Science One (PLoS) journal.

"Knowing the dispersal patterns of these young fish after they leave their nursery grounds and learning their year-round habitat needs are important goals for the commercial fishery of adult bluefin tuna, as well," she adds. For example, these tunas' winter and spring movemen
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Contact: Janet Lathrop
jlathrop@admin.umass.edu
413-545-0444
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Source:Eurekalert  

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