Giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) are the largest reef-associated teleost in the northeastern Pacific, considered an important apex predator in Macrocystis kelp forest and rocky reef ecosystems. Historically, landings of giant sea bass (GSB) occurred during the summer months (June–August) and included multiple large individuals, indicating the likelihood of aggregation behavior. Due to the predictability of these aggregations, GSB were fished throughout the 20th century until they were nearly extirpated from southern California. Recently, the recreational diving and fishing communities reported an increase in sightings and catch of GSB, suggesting the population may be recovering. To better assess population recovery, acoustic telemetry was used to quantify temporal and spatial rhythmicity of GSB aggregations at Santa Catalina Island, California. In total, 32 individuals were tracked for 498 days over two successive spawning seasons in 2017–2018 and visual surveys were conducted monthly to estimate aggregation size. Aggregating at Catalina was documented from June–October, and spawning was most likely occurring at a pinnacle promontory in July–September. GSB tagged at Catalina exhibited residency to specific sites throughout the year and individuals showed fidelity to suspected spawning aggregation sites during the summer months. Ten (31%) giant sea bass were detected at the island year-round and 11 (34%) exhibited suspected annual spawning site fidelity. Four individuals (12%) were documented leaving the island during late fall/early winter 2017 and returning in spring/early summer 2018, indicating partial migration and year-round fidelity to specific sites at Santa Catalina Island. This study provides a baseline of spatial and temporal movement and behavioral patterns that can be used to improve our understanding of GSB and potentially be used in future management decisions concerning this species in California and Mexico.
|Advisor:||Lowe, Christopher G.|
|Commitee:||Johnson, Darren W., Steele, Mark A.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 81/3(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Biology, Wildlife Management|
|Keywords:||Aggregation, Fidelity, Giant sea bass, Network analysis, Stereolepis gigas, Telemetry|
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