Principal Investigator: Dr. Chris Lowe
Graduate Student: Ryan Logan
Facility: California State University Long Beach
Study: Site fidelity and movement patterns of kelp bass, barred sand bass, and California sheephead on an impact mitigation artificial reef in southern California
This project examines the movements of kelp bass, barred sand bass, and California sheephead within the Wheeler North Artificial Reef (WNAR) off the coast of San Clemente, CA. WNAR is the largest artificial reef in the United States that was built to replace the lost habitat of a natural reef (San Onofre kelp bed). By implanting a tracking tag into 45 fish of each species caught on WNAR, the amount of time spent on the reef over two years (site fidelity) will be determined for each species, and if they are moving between WNAR and other natural reefs in the area. If results indicate that the fish are only transient visitors to WNAR, this could provide support to the idea that artificial reefs may not be the best option for habitat restoration. However, if fish are staying on the reef year-round in a defined “home-range” as expected, this project, in conjunction with others being done on WNAR, could be one of the first to demonstrate that artificial reefs are effective producers of new fish.