Do Descender Devices Increase Opportunities for Depredation?

Principal Investigator
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A Gulf-wide examination of descender device depredation rates and depredating species

This project will assess the prevalence of depredation on fishes released using descender devices across the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and determine the species responsible for the depredation. Dr. Judson Curtis is in charge of project coordination in the western Gulf of Mexico, meeting with stakeholders, conducting training in data collection, analysis of results, and dissemination of findings.

The objective of this study is to use GoFish cameras to document depredation rates on descending fishes and identify species responsible for depredation. This objective will be accomplished in three phases. During Phase 1, regional leads from the western, north-central and eastern U.S. Gulf will develop a data collection protocol, then produce a short whiteboard video that will be used to explain the study design and methods to participating charter captains.

During Phase 2, each regional lead will recruit and train 10 charter captains on descender device and camera use, as well as data collection procedures. Each captain will then be incentivized ($100/trip for up to 20 trips) to record the fate of fishes released on descenders. Each month, the regional leads will collect memory cards from the charter captains’ cameras and deliver them to PI Dr. Marcus Drymon for analysis.

During Phase 3, Drymon will incorporate the region- and species-specific depredation rates and depredating species identities into a second whiteboard video so that the project results can be broadly disseminated to stakeholders.