Potential of Pigeon Creek, San Salvador, Bahamas, as Nursery Habitat for Juvenile Reef Fish

Ian Christopher Conboy, James M Haynes

Abstract


This project assessed the significance of Pigeon Creek, San Salvador, Bahamas as a nursery habitat for coral reef fishes. Pigeon Creek’s perimeter is lined with mangrove and limestone bedrock. The bottom is sand or seagrass and ranges in depth from exposed at low tide to a 3-m deep, tide-scoured channel. In June 2006 and January 2007, fish were counted and their maturity was recorded while sampling 112 of 309 possible 50-m transects along the perimeter of the Pigeon Creek. Excluding silversides (Atherinidae, 52% of fish counted), six families each comprised >1% of the total abundance (Scaridae/parrotfishes, 35.3%; Lutjanidae/snappers, 23.9%; Haemulidae/grunts, 21.0%; Gerreidae/mojarras, 8.5%; Pomacentridae/damselfishes, 6.1%; Labridae/wrasses, 2.4%). There were few differences in effort-adjusted counts among habitats (mangrove, bedrock, mixed), sections (north, middle, southwest) and seasons (summer 2006 and winter 2007). Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), covering 68% of the perimeter was where 62% of the fish were counted. Snappers, grunts and parrotfishes are important food fishes and significant families in terms of reef ecology around San Salvador. Mangrove was the most important habitat for snappers and grunts; bedrock was most important for parrotfishes. The southwest section was important for snappers, grunts and parrotfishes, the north section for grunts and parrotfishes, and the middle section for snappers. Among the non-silverside fish counted, 91.2% were juveniles. These results suggest that Pigeon Creek is an important nursery for the coral reefs surrounding San Salvador and should be protected from potential disturbances.

Keywords


Juvenile coral reef fish, Pigeon Creek, Rhizophora mangle, Lutjanidae, Haemulidae, Scaridae

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15362/ijbs.v17i2.138

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