Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 102, Issue 2, pp 365–381 | Cite as

Movement and predation: a catch-and-release study on the acoustic tracking of bonefish in the Indian Ocean

  • Emily J. MoxhamEmail author
  • Paul D. Cowley
  • Rhett H. Bennett
  • Rainer G. von Brandis


Tourism generated through bonefish (Albula spp.) fishing contributes to the economies of many isolated tropical islands and atolls. However, little research has been conducted on bonefish in the Indian Ocean. This study aimed to contribute to the understanding of bonefish ecology in the Indian Ocean by quantifying the spatial and temporal movements of Albula glossodonta at a near-pristine and predator-rich atoll in the Seychelles; however, to achieve this, an analysis to identify the occurrence of possible post-release predation bias was first necessary. An acoustic telemetry study was initiated at the remote St. Joseph Atoll, within an array of 88 automated data-logging acoustic receivers. Thirty bonefish were surgically implanted with Vemco V13 acoustic transmitters and tracked for one year. Only 10% of the tagged bonefish were detected for longer than two weeks. A comparison of the final 100 h of movement data from fish detected for less than two weeks to the movement data of the fish detected for longer periods revealed distinct differences in area use and significant differences in the average daily distance moved, speed of movement and frequency of detections. This suggested that mortality in the form of post-release predation was at least 43% of tagged fish. The three surviving bonefish were tracked for 210 to 367 days. These individuals remained in the atoll and showed high use of the marginal habitats between the shallow sand flats and the lagoon. A generalised linear mixed model identified that water temperature, diel cycle and tide were significant predictors of bonefish presence in the lagoon. The high post-release mortality highlights that catch-and-release is likely not as benign as previously believed and management and policy should be adjusted accordingly.


Acoustic telemetry Bonefish Catch-and-release Indian Ocean Predation bias 



This work was made possible thanks to the funding provided by Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) and the resources of D’Arros Research Centre (DRC), South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and Rhodes University. The authors also thank those who assisted in the field, in particular Kerryn Bullock, Christopher Boyes and Chantel Elston. James Lea and the Danah Divers are thanked for the management of the acoustic array and the downloading of the data and Dr. Amber Childs for assistance with data analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors acknowledge that there were no conflicts of interest in this study.

Human studies

This article does not contain studies involving human participants.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval for this study was obtained by the relevant authorities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.South Africa Institute for Aquatic BiodiversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Save Our Seas Foundation - D’Arros Research CenterD’Arros IslandSeychelles

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