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UVI Fish Study to Help Local Fishery Managers

A study about to be published by a team of researchers at UVI’s Center for Marine and Environmental Studies will help local fishery officials manage local fish populations, said the center’s director Rick Nemeth.

Nemeth said that by putting Red Hind spawning data into computer models, the team determined that Red Hind larvae returns to the Virgin Islands and back into the local population.

“But we don’t know the percentage and the variable,” he said, referring to the return rate for Red Hind larvae.

The study will be published in the September issue of Ecological Modeling. Research for “Flow and transport characteristics at a [red hind grouper] spawning aggregation site in St. Thomas” was done by the team of Nemeth, UVI Assistant Research Professor Nasseer Idrisi and Laurent Cherubin, a visiting research oceanographer from the University of Miami.

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The team studied the fish in 2005 and 2006 at the Red Hind Bank, located in a protected area about seven miles south of St. Thomas. To determine where the Red Hind travel, Nemeth said he tagged fish with an offer of $20 to the fisherman who provided information on where the fish was caught.

“We got great data,” he said.

It showed the fish traveled in an area about 310 square miles in size that reaches to Culebra to south of St. John to Saba island south of St. Thomas.

Nemeth said the Red Hind spawn in December, January and March; and they return to spawn at the Red Hind Bank year after year. They always spawn around the full moon, using the full moon tide and light to guide them to the spawning site.

After gathering the spawning data, the team studied currents and the dispersal of the fish eggs by using a computer program.

The computer modeling work that allowed them to determine that the larvae return to where they were spawned was done in 2009 and 2010.

A genetic study to determine the Nassau grouper parentage will further cement the hypothesis that the fish larvae return to where they were spawned, Nemeth said.

A study still in the planning stages will determine how climate change will affect the Red Hind’s spawning characteristics because it will alter ocean current patterns.

“If oceans are warming, will the fish adjust?” Nemeth said.

The scientists expect that the success of this research will improve the ability to anticipate and plan for catastrophic events such as hurricanes, storm surges and droughts.

A major portion of the funding for UVI’s ocean modeling research came from the federally funded V.I. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which supported the purchase of hardware and software as well as the funding of research personnel.

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A study about to be published by a team of researchers at UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies will help local fishery officials manage local fish populations, said the center’s director Rick Nemeth.

Nemeth said that by putting Red Hind spawning data into computer models, the team determined that Red Hind larvae returns to the Virgin Islands and back into the local population.

“But we don’t know the percentage and the variable,” he said, referring to the return rate for Red Hind larvae.

The study will be published in the September issue of Ecological Modeling. Research for “Flow and transport characteristics at a [red hind grouper] spawning aggregation site in St. Thomas” was done by the team of Nemeth, UVI Assistant Research Professor Nasseer Idrisi and Laurent Cherubin, a visiting research oceanographer from the University of Miami.

The team studied the fish in 2005 and 2006 at the Red Hind Bank, located in a protected area about seven miles south of St. Thomas. To determine where the Red Hind travel, Nemeth said he tagged fish with an offer of $20 to the fisherman who provided information on where the fish was caught.

“We got great data,” he said.

It showed the fish traveled in an area about 310 square miles in size that reaches to Culebra to south of St. John to Saba island south of St. Thomas.

Nemeth said the Red Hind spawn in December, January and March; and they return to spawn at the Red Hind Bank year after year. They always spawn around the full moon, using the full moon tide and light to guide them to the spawning site.

After gathering the spawning data, the team studied currents and the dispersal of the fish eggs by using a computer program.

The computer modeling work that allowed them to determine that the larvae return to where they were spawned was done in 2009 and 2010.

A genetic study to determine the Nassau grouper parentage will further cement the hypothesis that the fish larvae return to where they were spawned, Nemeth said.

A study still in the planning stages will determine how climate change will affect the Red Hind’s spawning characteristics because it will alter ocean current patterns.

“If oceans are warming, will the fish adjust?” Nemeth said.

The scientists expect that the success of this research will improve the ability to anticipate and plan for catastrophic events such as hurricanes, storm surges and droughts.

A major portion of the funding for UVI’s ocean modeling research came from the federally funded V.I. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which supported the purchase of hardware and software as well as the funding of research personnel.