Article Spotlight: Spatial ecology of the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas, in a southern California kelp forest as determined by acoustic telemetry

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Article Spotlight

Image: Ben Fiscella Meissner 

Spatial ecology of the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas, in a southern California kelp forest

The fisheries history of the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas (Telostei: Polyprionidae), is closely linked to its spatial ecology. Its overharvest is directly associated with formation of spatially distinct spawning aggregations during summer, while its subsequent recovery is hypothesized to be the result of spatially explicit gear restrictions. Understanding the spatial ecology of Giant Sea Bass is a key part of efforts to assess contemporary threats such as commercial harvest and incidental catch by recreational fisheries.

 

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“This study out of the Semmens Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography characterizes the movement patterns of one of southern California’s most iconic kelp forest fish species.”
Dr Kayla Blincow

For All Readers - AI Explainer

What was the primary objective of this study on the Giant Sea Bass?

The study aimed to use acoustic telemetry to understand the spatial ecology, residency, and seasonality of the Giant Sea Bass in the La Jolla kelp forest, especially in relation to marine protected areas (MPAs) and recreational fishing grounds.

 

Why is the spatial ecology of the Giant Sea Bass significant?

The spatial ecology is crucial because the Giant Sea Bass’s historical fisheries have been impacted by its spatial behavior. Understanding this can help in assessing threats like overharvesting and incidental catches.

 

What method was employed to study the Giant Sea Bass’s spatial behavior?

The researchers used acoustic telemetry, tagging seven fish and monitoring their movements through an acoustic array in the La Jolla kelp forest, which includes two MPAs and areas of recreational fishing.

 

What were the main findings regarding the tagged Giant Sea Bass?

Five out of seven tagged fish remained within the La Jolla area for at least 6 months, with one fish being consistently detected for 4 years. Most fish spent significant time outside MPAs, especially in regions with high recreational fishing activity. During spawning seasons, fish were detected less frequently and exhibited higher movement rates.

 

How do the findings relate to the conservation of the Giant Sea Bass?

Despite high recreational fishing pressure in the region, the current MPA network in La Jolla seems to support the long-term persistence of some Giant Sea Bass individuals. However, the interactions with recreational fishing grounds, especially during spawning, indicate potential threats that need management attention.

 

Were there any limitations to the study?

Yes, the study had a small sample size of seven tagged fish. Additionally, there was limited receiver coverage in many areas, especially in Mexican waters, making it challenging to track fish movements beyond the studied region.

 

 

Spatial ecology of the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas, in a southern California kelp forest as determined by acoustic telemetry

 

The fisheries history of the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas (Telostei: Polyprionidae), is closely linked to its spatial ecology. Its overharvest is directly associated with formation of spatially distinct spawning aggregations during summer, while its subsequent recovery is hypothesized to be the result of spatially explicit gear restrictions. Understanding the spatial ecology of Giant Sea Bass is a key part of efforts to assess contemporary threats such as commercial harvest and incidental catch by recreational fisheries.

 

Image Credit: Ben Fiscella Meissner 

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