Home > Explore Data & Reports > Fish movement patterns in Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument and adjacent waters


Friedlander, A.M., M.E. Monaco, R. Clark, S.J. Pittman, J. Beets, R. Boulon, R. Callender, J. Christensen, S.D. Hile, M.S. Kendall, J. Miller, C. Rogers, K. Stamoulis, L. Wedding, and K. Roberson. 2013. Fish movement patterns in Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument and adjacent waters. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 172. Silver Spring, MD. 102 pp.

Data/Report Type:

NOAA Technical Memorandum


NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)-Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s (CCMA) Biogeography Branch, National Park Service (NPS), US Geological Survey, and the University of Hawaii used acoustic telemetry to quantify spatial patterns and habitat affinities of reef fishes around the island of St. John, US Virgin Islands (Fig. 1). The objective of the study was to define the movements of reef fishes among habitats within and between the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (VICRNM), the Virgin Islands National Park (VIIS), and Territorial waters surrounding St. John. In order to better understand species’ habitat utilization patterns among management regimes, we deployed an array of hydroacoustic receivers and acoustically tagged reef fishes. Thirty six receivers were deployed in shallow near-shore bays and across the shelf to depths of approximately 30 m. One hundred eighty four individual fishes were tagged representing 19 species from 10 different families with VEMCO V9-2L-R64K transmitters. The array provides fish movement information at fine (e.g., day-night and 100s meters within a bay) to broad spatial and temporal scales (multiple years and 1000s meters across the shelf ). The long term multi-year tracking project provides direct evidence of connectivity across habitat types in the seascape and among management units. An important finding for management was that a number of individuals moved among management units (VICRNM, VINP, Territorial waters) and several snapper moved from near-shore protected areas to offshore shelf-edge spawning aggregations. However, most individuals spent the majority of their time with VIIS and VICRNM, with only a few wide-ranging species moving outside the management units.

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