Underwater Tagging of Rockfishes 1997-1998

In August and September of 1997 and 1998, the Fisheries & Conservation Biology Lab at MLML used SCUBA techniques to surgically implant Vemco V16 series acoustic transmitters in 6 greenspotted rockfish (Sebastes chlorostictus) and 16 bocaccio (S. paucispinis) on the flank of Soquel Canyon in Monterey Bay, California. Fish were captured at depths of 100-200 m and reeled up to a depth of approximately 20 m, where a team of SCUBA divers anesthetized and surgically implanted acoustic transmitters in them. Tagged fish were released on the seafloor at the location of catch. An array of recording receivers on the seafloor enabled the tracking of horizontal and vertical fish movements for a three-month period. Greenspotted rockfish tagged in 1997 exhibited almost no vertical movement and showed limited horizontal movement. Two of these tagged fish spent more than 90% of the time in a 0.58-km2 area. Three other tagged greenspotted rockfish spent more than 60% of the time in a 1.6-km2 area but displayed frequent horizontal movements of at least 3 km. Bocaccio exhibited somewhat greater movements. Of the 16 bocaccio tagged in 1998, 10 spent less than 10% of the time in the approximately 12-km2 study area. One fish stayed in the study area for about 50% of the study time. Signals from the remaining 5 fish were recorded in the study area the entire time. Bocaccio frequently moved vertically 10-20 m and occasionally displayed vertical movements of 100 m or greater.

Starr, R.M., J.N. Heine, J.M. Felton, and G.M. Cailliet. 2002. Movements of bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis) and greenspotted (Sebastes chlorostictus) rockfishes in a Monterey submarine canyon: Implications for the design of marine reserves. Fishery Bulletin Vol. 100, No. 2. pp. 324-337.

Starr, R.M., J.N. Heine, and K.A. Johnson. 2000. In situ techniques for tagging and tracking rockfishes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Vol. 20:597-609.