As school starts, look forward to interpretive materials emerging from our research project. While it is known that juvenile Goliath Groupers are confined to shallow coastal waters, their local distribution is patchy and poorly understood. What is it in their biology that makes some locales more attractive than others? The student’s initial hypothesis was that Pier 65 on the Bahia Honda Bridge, in the Florida Keys, is an important site for this species due to local physical and temporal circumstances. Correlates have been discovered between numbers of fish present at the research station and other variables, for example the specific time of year, tidal cycle, water temperature, and presence of other species, all of which have been monitored by the students. The students would like to continue their studies at other locations, such as the dock at Fort Jefferson. The second question Kent Denver students have begun investigating is whether individual groupers can be identified by markings. Scientists at NOAA have performed studies that are inconclusive (ref), and we hope to complement this work with live video and tagged individuals to assess the possibility of using markings for future studies. We currently have necessary permitting to deploy small, banded ribbon tags, and this work will begin at the Bahia Honda experimental location. Major impetus to install a second camera at Fort Jefferson are for two reasons: 1) groupers are known to congregate at the dock, where shade offers refuge for a number of resident fish, 2) The clear water will afford the opportunity for students to perform studies, at specific times in their school day. This has been a major limiting factor for the use our other camera system, especially for teachers who want to have live video during class times. A large database of images has begun, and once enough data has been collected, we will publish our work on the teens4oceans website. If you can identify individuals, you could do a mark-resight estimate of abundance (identifying using marking patterns). These data will allow estimates of how many Goliath Groupers there were within that bridge area and also estimate immigration and emigration rates from the study site.
In addition to our work with the Goliath Grouper Project, we will soon be deploying a camera system at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in Marathon. This project will be a collaboration to explore the egress and ingress of lobsters (Panulirus) in traps. In addition we are working with the National Park Service to deploy cameras in the crystal clear waters of Saint John, IN HIGH DEFINITION! Thank you all for the fiscal support that many of you have offered our program. We hope to continue to offer free streaming video for the public, and appreciate the many ideas for fundraising that have been offered in the last six months.