BTT’s Abaco Bonefish Genetics Trip – Summer 2015

An abaco bonefish

Last year BTT, in collaboration with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), initiated a three year genetics study looking at the connectivity of bonefish populations in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic. Determining the connectivity of bonefish populations is vital to improve conservation and fisheries management efforts for the species. Genetic samples are collected from bonefish by taking a small fin clip from the fish. These fin clips are then used for genetic analysis which can be compared to others to determine if a population of bonefish are related to another population elsewhere.

Earlier this summer Justin Lewis, BTT’s Bahamas Initiative Coordinator, lead a team consisting of Robbie Roemer, James Boyce, and Chris Bancroft to Abaco in hopes of collecting a lot of fin clip samples for the study. Our friends at Abaco Lodge hosted the team, and they would base their efforts from the lodge for duration of the trip.

Taking a fin clip sample from a Bahamian bonefish.With four days to collect samples the team thought it be best to cover as much ground as possible. Two days were spent in the Marls, another on the east side, and one day on the flats in northern Abaco. Over the course of the trip it was tough finding fish in the morning’s due to high tides and low light. Afternoon’s brought better fortune for the team with a falling tide and higher sun. Over the four day sampling period the team was able to fin clip 702 bonefish, and tagged 373 of those via seine netting. The guides Travis Sands, Marty Sawyer, Thom Albury, and Trevor Miller were all key to the team’s success as they were constantly able to find fish even with the less than optimal conditions the team faced.

More work is still to be done in Abaco, as well as many other islands around the Bahamas and the Caribbean. BTT cannot do this alone and angler participation in studies such as our genetics programs is key to their success. If you or others are interested in participating in our genetics study please contact us at info@bonefishtarpontrust.orgto to request a fin clip kit.

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