Bonefish Tagging Research in Xcalak and Belize

Written by Rob Mukai on Feb. 27, 2018

Tags: Xcalak Saltwater Fly Fishing San Pedro Belize Bonefish and Tarpon Trust Mexico

Presentation in Xcalak, Mexico

February 24, 2018, Doctoral candidate Addiel Perez presented some of his findings from the work he has been doing tagging bonefish and permit in Belize and southern Mexico. He has also presented this to the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust Symposium in Nov. 2017. He has tagged over 9,500 bonefish over the last two years, from north of Xcalak in Mexico to San Pedro and Caye Caulker in Belize. Information gained from recapture of the tagged fish has led to the identification of the first two pre-spawning sites in Belize and the Caribbean Region. These sites are important as bonefish from Belize and Mexico migrate to those locations to complete their reproductive life-stage. The study he is doing will help both Mexico and Belize protect habitats and migration routes for these fish that are so important as they provide a source of income to many individuals in coastal communities of both countries.

Map of Study Area

Some key findings.

  1. Most of the bonefish recaptured stay within a 1 KM radius of their capture point.

  2. There are strong migration paths to and from pre-spawn aggregation sites.

  3. On average bonefish are significantly larger on the Caribbean side than the populations in Chetumal Bay.

Tagged bonefish

Key Implications

  1. Very important to protect known pre-spawn aggregation sites from development

  2. Need to protect transit paths from Chetumal Bay to the Caribbean through the Zaragoza canal, Bacalar Chico river and Ambergris Caye.

  3. Key Stakeholders, Fly Fishermen, Guides, etc. need to continue reporting recaptured fish to either or the BTT website