Fish Spawning Aggregation Sites
Many marine animals aggregate in specific sites during the full moon, these sites are often called “hotspots” due to their productivity and their ecological importance. Commercially important fish like snappers and groupers migrate and temporarily aggregate near the reef around full moon, these sites are called fish spawning aggregation sites (FSAs). They can be predictable in time and space, which makes them highly vulnerable to exploitation.
FSAs are studied every month around the full moon using underwater visual census methods, two sites have been monitored since January and two more sites have been selected as potential study sites. During these aggregations, groupers display elaborate courtship behaviors, males change color rapidly and fight over females then females choose the males and generally spawn around sunset. Although this behavior is quite amazing to observe, studying FSAs is very difficult because fish spawn in places with strong currents and as deep as 40m. These sites are important for the resilience of the species and for the sustainability of most fisheries around the world. Studying these sites will allow us to understand what species reproduce in the island and to determine the reproductive size and abundance of the species. Protecting FSAs in the Bay Islands will positively influence the health of the reefs and will support commercially important fisheries.
These reproductive aggregation sites are critical life-cycle events for all marine species that engage in this behavior because it is the only time for the species to reproduce and ensure their next generations. Due to their highly ecological importance, the RMP team has focused their research efforts on different FSA sites around the island of Roatan. The project aims to study the different FSAs on Roatan, educate the population about their importance and protect these sites to ensure the species preservation.