Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Forage Fish Management and Conservation in the Salish Sea

Description

Surf Smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus) are an important forage fish in the Salish Sea food web, and obligate beach spawners. Due to their small body size, high abundance, high mortality and extensive mobility, forage fish are not commonly considered good candidates for tagging studies. Despite these apparent drawbacks, we conducted a pilot study to determine whether low-cost batch tagging methods could be used to help answer questions about local movements and distribution of Surf Smelt in Puget Sound. Using a beach seine, two known spawning beaches in Eld Inlet, located in south Puget Sound, were sampled for smelt nearly once a month for a year beginning in December 2014. Smelt were tagged using a Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tag (Northwest Marine Technology), and released. Fish were tagged with various combinations of tag placement and colors denoting the date and location that the fish were originally encountered. Over eight thousand smelt were marked and at least 58 were re-captured. Many recaptures occurred within the same month as the initial capture; however, smelt have been re-captured up to nine months after they were initially tagged. The results of the first year of the study will be presented, and we will discuss potential implications of apparent patterns of tag recoveries.

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Testing the effectiveness of an inexpensive batch tagging method on Surf Smelt in Puget Sound

2016SSEC

Surf Smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus) are an important forage fish in the Salish Sea food web, and obligate beach spawners. Due to their small body size, high abundance, high mortality and extensive mobility, forage fish are not commonly considered good candidates for tagging studies. Despite these apparent drawbacks, we conducted a pilot study to determine whether low-cost batch tagging methods could be used to help answer questions about local movements and distribution of Surf Smelt in Puget Sound. Using a beach seine, two known spawning beaches in Eld Inlet, located in south Puget Sound, were sampled for smelt nearly once a month for a year beginning in December 2014. Smelt were tagged using a Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tag (Northwest Marine Technology), and released. Fish were tagged with various combinations of tag placement and colors denoting the date and location that the fish were originally encountered. Over eight thousand smelt were marked and at least 58 were re-captured. Many recaptures occurred within the same month as the initial capture; however, smelt have been re-captured up to nine months after they were initially tagged. The results of the first year of the study will be presented, and we will discuss potential implications of apparent patterns of tag recoveries.