Home > Explore Data & Reports > Using Acoustic Telemetry to Understand Connectivity of Gray’s Reef National Sanctuary to the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Ocean


Williams, B.L., K. Roberson, J. Young, and M.S. Kendall. 2019. Using Acoustic Telemetry to Understand Connectivity of Gray’s Reef National Sanctuary to the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Ocean. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 259. Silver Spring, MD. 82 pp. doi:10.25923/r2ma-5m96

Data/Report Type:

NOAA Technical Memorandum


This study analyzed nearly ten years of acoustic telemetry monitoring at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, to understand its role in fish movements along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Designated in 1981, Gray’s Reef lies 17 miles off the coast of Georgia where water depths are ~60-70 feet and the habitat is comprised of a mosaic of ledges, flat live-bottom, and unconsolidated sediments. Biotic communities there are seasonally influenced by warm waters from the south and cooler temperate waters from the north. The unique geographic location and complex habitat provided by Gray’s Reef attracts many transient fish species, however a quantitative understanding of the timing and frequency of their presence is lacking. Here, we identify all transient species that were detected by telemetry receivers at the sanctuary from 2008 to 2017, summarize the timing and seasonality of their visits, and discuss their connectivity to the broader coastal Atlantic ecosystem. This study relied upon collaboration with the growing community of researchers who implant or attach acoustic transmitters to fish and other animals in order to understand their movement patterns. Presence of tagged fish is recorded when the unique acoustic code that is transmitted by a tagged fish is within the detection range of a receiver. These studies often rely on a broad network of receivers independently owned and deployed by a community of researchers. Since 2008, scientists at Gray’s Reef have maintained an array of four to twenty-one receivers at various sites in the sanctuary to study local fish behavior.

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