About the project
The Striped Bass Project has four major goals:
To increase our knowledge of the size and structure of the studied striped bass populations
To identify essential fish habitat for striped bass
To increase our understanding of coastal migrations routes used by striped bass from various populations
To test acoustic tagging and see if and how it could be used on a larger scale and for more species
During the project, researchers gather information about how, where and how far individual striped bass regularly travel. Will a striped bass always return to the same estuary to spawn, or can it spawn in different places different years? Have migration patterns for striped bass changed over the years?Are different groups of striped bass displaying different migration patterns? What limits (e.g. size and age) regulate the use of certain habitats within the estuary and coastal ocean? The researchers are also eager to learn more about patterns indicated by earlier marker tagging.
By learning more about the migration patterns of striped bass, researchers will be able to aid fishery managers and others involved in keeping the striped bass populations at healthy levels.
Striped bass are tagged with acoustic transmitters. This makes it possible for scientists to track the fish's movement.
Using telemetry to see if different groups of striped bass are displaying different migration patterns
The scientists from Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences are currently investigating if different groups of striped bass have different migration patterns. It is possible that different groups migrate in different ways, and that some striped bass do not migrate at all even though they aren't landlocked. That would mean that striped bass living in the same area may spend different amounts of time in that area, and that they may not provide equal contributions to the future generations of that area. I would also mean that scientists have to change the way the calculate the total number of striped bass in a given area.
With the traditional method of tagging, you do not receive any information about where the fish spends time between tagging and recapturing. The new acoustic telemetry utilized by the Striped Bass Projects is able to help fill these data gaps.
Earlier, when a bass was released into River X one summer and then recaptured in River X the follow year, most scientists would assume that it had migrated to the ocean for the winter and then returned to River X to spawn. Thanks to acoustic telemetry, it is possible to find out if some bass actually elect to stay in River X year round.
What are the future plans for the Striped Bass Project?
To extend the monitoring in the ocean.
To expand the acoustic tagging program to include other migratory fish species, such as bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhyncus) and summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus).
To use more hydrophones in order to cover longer stretches of coast and entrances to other bays.
The striped bass team also hopes to inspire other research groups to start their own acoustic tagging projects. Shared data from several projects would greatly enhance human knowledge of migratory patterns in fish.