|About the Book|
Almost 120 days at sea aboard three NOAA research vessels and one fishing vessel over the past three years have supported biogeographic characterization of Tortugas Ecological Reserve (TER). This work initiated measurement of post-implementationMoreAlmost 120 days at sea aboard three NOAA research vessels and one fishing vessel over the past three years have supported biogeographic characterization of Tortugas Ecological Reserve (TER). This work initiated measurement of post-implementation effects of TER as a refuge for exploited species. In Tortugas South, seafloor transect surveys were conducted using divers, towed operated vehicles (TOV), remotely operated vehicles (ROV), various sonar platforms, and the Deepworker manned submersible. ARGOS drifter releases, satellite imagery, ichthyoplankton surveys, sea surface temperature, and diver census were combined to elucidate potential dispersal of fish spawning in this environment. Surveys are being compiled into a GIS to allow resource managers to gauge benthic resource status and distribution. Drifter studies have determined that within the 30 days of larval life stage for fishes spawning at Tortugas South, larvae could reach as far downstream as Tampa Bay on the west Florida coast and Cape Canaveral on the east coast. Together with actual fish surveys and water mass delineation, this work demonstrates that the refuge status of this area endows it with tremendous downstream spillover and larval export potential for Florida reef habitats and promotes the maintenance of their fish communities.