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Two Bonefish Pre-Spawning Sites Discovered in Northern Belize

​Photos: Patrick Williams

A research team, led by Addiel U. Perez, a Ph.D. student of El Colegio de la Frontera Sur and a BTT research associate, recently identified bonefish pre-spawning activity in two sites in Northern Belize. This discovery represents a major step forward in bonefish research along the Belize-Mexico border, as it is the first time pre-spawning behavior has been documented in the region.  

Since 2015, the team comprised of Addiel Perez, Roberto Herrera, and Belizean guides Omar Arceo and Jose “Chepe” Polanco, have tagged over 8,550 bonefish and recovered approximately 650 tags in southern Mexico and northern Belize. This tag-recapture method was essential to track local movement and also migration of bonefish in the region. Local knowledge from many traditional artisanal fishermen assisted in determining the seasonality of movements in and between Chetumal Bay and the Caribbean coast. Most importantly, veteran guide Omar Arceo’s own experience as the only witness of pre-spawning in Northern Belize was crucial to identifying and documenting the pre-spawning behavior activity in the two new sites in Northern Belize.  

These findings, which will be published in Environmental Biology of Fishes this year, will provide a better understanding of the pre-spawning activities in the region. The team is hopeful that more pre-spawning sites will be reported and monitored, so as to develop better fisheries management for the conservation of bonefish and their habitat. 

Addiel is in his fourth year of study at ECOSUR, under supervision of Dr. Juan Jacobo Schmitter-Soto, Dr. Alberto de Jesús-Navarrete, Dr. William David Heyman and Dr. Aaron J. Adams.

The research team wishes to acknowledge the many anglers, guides, and volunteers, especially: Gil, Cesar, Geovanni, Nato Herrera, Nato Cruz, El Pescador Lodge and Villas,  Acocote Eco Inn and The Flats Fly-and Fishing Guide Services, CONANP, SACD, and Belize Fisheries Department. This study is funded by: ECOSUR, BTT, and CONACYT.