Application of three-dimensional acoustic telemetry to assess the effects of rapid recompression on reef fish discard mortality

Erin Collings Bohaboy, Tristan L. Guttridge, Neil Hammerschlag, Maurits P.M. Van Zinnicq Bergmann, William F. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Geopositioning underwater acoustic telemetry was used to test whether rapid recompression with weighted return-to-depth (descender) devices reduced discard mortality of red snapper (n = 141) and gray triggerfish (n = 26) captured and released at 30-60 m depths at two 15 km2 study sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Cox proportional hazards modelling indicated red snapper released with descender devices had significantly lower discard mortality within the first 2 d (95% CI = 18.8-41.8% for descender-released vs. 44.0-72.4% for surface-released, unvented fish), while there was no significant effect of descender devices on discard mortality of gray triggerfish. Predation by large pelagic predators was estimated to account 83% of red snapper and 100% of gray triggerfish discard mortality. Discard mortality due to predation has likely been overlooked in previous mark-recapture, laboratory, and enclosure studies, suggesting cryptic population losses due to predation on discards may be underestimated for red snapper and gray triggerfish. Large-area three-dimensional positioning acoustic telemetry arrays combined with collaboration and data sharing among acoustic telemetry researchers have the potential to advance our knowledge of the processes affecting discard mortality in reef fishes and other taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-96
Number of pages14
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • acoustic telemetry
  • descender device
  • discard mortality
  • predation
  • rapid recompression
  • recreational fisheries
  • red snapper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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