Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Data Buoy Science

Acoustic Tagging Project

Your Help is Needed

Be on the lookout for Tagged Fish

Internal Acoustic Tag / Transmitter

Figure 1: Internal Acoustic Tag / Transmitter
Photo: VEMCO

Scientists from NOAA are conducting a study on the movement patterns of red snapper, black sea bass and two grouper species (gag and scamp) within Gray's Reef. In May 2008, June 2009, May 2010, and May 2012 aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, scientists captured and internally tagged red snapper, black sea bass and two grouper species (gag and scamp) using VEMCO V13 transmitters (Figure 1 and (r) Figure 3) and VR2 and VR2W acoustic receivers (Figure 3 (l) and Figure 5). You will know if you have caught one of these fish as it should also have an external tag (Figure 2) attached near its dorsal fin (these tags do fall out, so occasionally an internally tagged fish will not have an external tag).

External Tag

Figure 2: External Tags
Photo: VEMCO

If you capture one of the fish with an external tag (Figure 2) attached near their dorsal fin, and it is alive, PLEASE RELEASE IT so that it can continue providing data! If you can, please note the tag number printed on the tag, and location of capture / return and call 912-598-2345 to report the information.

If the fish does not survive being brought to the surface, we would greatly appreciate if you would keep the internal tag (Figure 1 and (r) Figure 5) which will be found inside the fish's adominal cavity. Please call us at 912-598-2345 and we will retrieve the device so that we can identify the fish and the device may be used again. We ask that anyone who catches a tagged fish please call the number listed on the external tag (or email us at and report the tag number, date, and general location of capture.

Acoustic Receiver and Transmitter

Figure 3: Acoustic Receiver (l) and Transmitter (r)
Photo: VEMCO

Acoustic Receiver

Figure 5:
Acoustic Receiver
Photo: VEMCO

The internal tags inserted in the fish emit a unique "ping" allowing researchers to track each fish. The tags are tracked by acoustic receivers (Figure 3 (l) and Figure 5) deployed in an array (Figure 4) that are placed around Gray's Reef. As of January, 2013, twenty-two of the acoustic receiver array units (Figure 4) have been placed around Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary to listen for tagged fish.

 Receiver Array

Figure 4: Receiver Array
Photo: GRNMS

If you happen to accidentally pull up one of the receiver arrays (Figure 4) please note the location, keep the array and call us at 912-598-2345. We will retrieve the unit and return it to the water in the appropriate location so that we can continue tracking fish in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

We are tagging fish to better manage Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. It is important for us to know how fish use the reef, what habitats they prefer within the sanctuary and whether those preferences change over time. A better understood reef system leads to a better managed sanctuary. The goal of this project is to better understand several recreationally important fish species.

Thank you for your help with this effort.


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