Reef fish are ‘homebodies’, says latest research

June 22nd, 2009 - 2:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 22 (IANS) Some fish species in Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park spend most of their time close to home and stay on the reef rather than travelling significant distances as was previously believed.
Since November 2007, scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) have tagged over 300 fish in the Ningaloo area off Western Australia’s North West Cape.

Dr. Richard Pillans from CSIRO said that approximately 40 percent of tagged Spangled Emperor (an important sport fish) remained within hundreds of metres of where they were originally captured.

“This is really exciting information as it provides evidence of a resident population. Data from the tags also showed that highly mobile species like Gold Spot Trevally and grey reef sharks spent the majority of time within just a few kilometres of where they were tagged,” said Pillans.

The goal of the research was to identify what influenced the movement patterns and habitat use of fish in the park.

According to the study, the new data on the long-term movement patterns of sharks and other fish in the park will have important implications for future management decisions on the size and placement of sanctuary zones. At the moment, 34 percent of the park is reserved as sanctuaries designed to protect marine animals and their habitat from human disturbance.

These findings were presented recently at the 8th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Perth, Australia.

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