For the second year in a row, scientists, guides, and volunteers from Bonefish and Tarpon Trust went on the hunt for baby bonefish in the Florida Keys. By “baby” we mean juvenile Albula vulpes less than 5″ long or bonefish larvae. In the past, BTT has funded research in the Bahamas to identify preferred nursery habitats for the juvenile bonefish. We are now taking that information and applying it in the Florida Keys to identify similar habitats.
In our previous search during the summer of 2013, we were unsuccessful in finding any baby bonefish in the Keys. Their absence obviously raised some concerns and we were eager to see if sampling a year later would yield a more positive result.
After revising our search strategy based on the previous year’s results and new information from the Bahamas, BTT set out for the week long Baby Bonefish Blitz in June. We are happy to announce that this year we were successful in locating juvenile bonefish in one location of the Upper Keys where BTT staff and volunteers seined a shoreline that had been identified as likely juvenile bonefish habitat. The juveniles were found with a couple hundred mojarras, something we’ve come to expect based on the previous BTT research conducted in The Bahamas. We are currently awaiting genetic analysis to confirm that these were juvenile Albula vulpes, and not one of the other species of bonefish that aren’t caught in the recreational fishery.
In many of the places where we did not find juvenile bonefish, we located beautiful habitat that seemed ideal. We will continue to refine our sampling techniques to locate juvenile bonefish nurseries in the Florida Keys and further our understanding and conservation of the Florida Keys flats fisheries.
We thank a long list of volunteers who donated their boats, backs and brains to BTT: Nelson Padron, Carmen Perez-Padron, Capt. Richard Black, Charlotte Berry, Rob Preihs, John Preihs, Natalie Flinn, Al Flinn, Derke Snodgrass, Arthur Black, Patrick Pace, Joseph Cross, AJ Juliano, Bryce Wheaton, Chris O’neill, Capt. Will Benson, Linda Denkert, Tim Henshaw, Andrew O’Niell, Capt. Simon Becker, Bill Stroh, Sebastian Palay, Capt. Bob Branham, Kyle Velunza and Jessica Wietsma.
If you find juvenile bonefish like the ones in the photo, please let us know the location and date (email: email@example.com). Please do not collect the juvenile bonefish; a research permit is required to collect them.
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