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The importance of newly-opened tidal inlets as spawning corridors for adult Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)
- Hall, Quentin A., Curtis, Judson M., Williams, Jason, Stunz, Gregory W.
- Fisheries research 2019 v.212 pp. 48-55
- Sciaenops ocellatus, acoustics, adults, estuaries, fish, migratory behavior, spawning, summer, water temperature, Gulf of Mexico, Texas
- The ability to emigrate from estuarine nursery areas to spawning grounds is essential for the persistence of estuarine dependent species such as Red Drum, (Sciaenops ocellatus). Typically in this region, tidal inlets are the only mechanism for this transfer. Cedar Bayou, a natural tidal inlet, was deliberately closed in 1979 but was recently dredged and reopened. The inlet allows for direct water exchange between the Gulf of Mexico and Mesquite Bay, Texas, USA, and represents a unique opportunity to study estuarine dependent species’ migration processes. Adult Red Drum were implanted with acoustic transmitters that allowed us to track their movement patterns before and after the reopening of Cedar Bayou. The goals of this study were to: 1) determine if Red Drum choose migration routes opportunistically in Texas waters; and 2) elucidate general movement patterns and residency estimates for Red Drum in Texas bays. Red Drum showed relatively little movement during the pre-opening period and summer, even after the inlet was restored. Once open, fish actively traversed through Cedar Bayou during the months commonly associated with spawning migrations and coincident with a drop in water temperature. These results demonstrate that Red Drum choose migration corridors opportunistically, thus opening tidal inlets such as Cedar Bayou can provide maturing Red Drum with greater connectivity between estuaries and spawning grounds in the open Gulf of Mexico.