CofC Logo

Triggerfish are Freakin' Weird! And Other Observations on Tropic Reef Fishes

Virginia Shervette, University of South Carolina Aiken

02 March 2018

In many ways, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands share similar histories with respect to the evolution of their reef fishing industries.  Currently, both regions have commercial sectors that are best described as small-scale artisanal or subsistence fisheries, meaning they support internal seafood needs with only a small portion, if any, of catches sold outside of the islands.  Additionally, U.S. Caribbean waters attract recreational anglers and divers from around the world, which supplies tourism dollars to the local economies.  For at least 300 years, small-scale artisanal fishing has been an important part of coastal subsistence in Puerto Rico.  Similarly, early 20th Century fisheries of the USVI were considered small and subsistence-based.  Their fisheries began to expand in the 1950s with growth in tourism.  As a result, many species experienced recent declines in landings, including species of snappers, groupers, triggerfish, and parrotfishes.  Little to no current life history data exist in the peer-reviewed literature for U.S. Caribbean populations of these species, and therefore they are considered priority species for basic life history research under SEDAR, the stock assessment process in the southeastern U.S. and Caribbean.  Dr. Shervette will summarize some of the recent efforts of her lab in documenting the reproductive biology, growth, and aspects of ecology for several reef fish species.