Movements of the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus) within shallow coastal waters using acoustic telemetry
Computing, Health and Science
Natural Sciences, Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Understanding the residency and movement patterns of major consumers, such as lobsters, in coastal waters is important for the management of coastal habitats and their fisheries. In the present study, we tagged 34 Panulirus cygnus with acoustic transmitters on a shallow coastal reef in south-western Australia and monitored their movements using fixed and manual receivers between November and May 2005–2006 and 2006–2007. We determined the proportion of ‘white’ (migratory-phase) lobsters emigrating from the reef between November and January and also characterised the large-scale movements of ‘red’ (residential-phase) and white lobsters. We undertook tank experiments to determine the effect of tagging and handling on P. cygnus behaviour. Counter to our expectation, 50% of white lobsters were detected on the reef after the migration period, whereas only a small proportion (13.6%) of white lobsters were tracked leaving the reef and only one individual displayed directional offshore movement. This limited movement indicates that coastal no-take zones may build up legal-sized 4–5+ year old lobsters because many of these are likely to remain resident over the migration season. Laboratory experiments and field observations suggest that tagging and handling affect lobster behaviour and movement for a few days post tagging, potentially confounding conclusions on dispersal and movement patterns in some studies.