The potential for using acoustic tracking to monitor the movement of the West Coast rock lobster Jasus lalandii

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African Journal of Marine Science

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University of Cape Town

Although acoustic tracking has been used to study the movement of several species of clawed and spiny lobsters, only recent technological advances have provided sufficiently small transmitters to examine the utility of using acoustic tracking as a means to analyse the movement of relatively small spiny lobsters, such as Jasus lalandii. The effect of the transmitter on the mobility of J. lalandii was tested in aquarium experiments and was shown to have no influence on movement in three separate experiments. Thereafter, adult male rock lobsters (86–98mm carapace length) were tracked in field trials for up to 32 days at Betty's Bay (n = 4) and Hermanus (n = 5) off the Western Cape, South Africa. Tracking J. lalandii in the field using acoustic tags was successful, even in areas with dense kelp beds and rocky outcrops. The signal from the transmitters was readily detectable from the surface and subsequent use of underwater tracking equipment enabled visual confirmation of the position of the rock lobsters. Lobsters moved significantly longer distances (>45m day−1) in the first two days following tagging than during any subsequent time period (<10m day−1). This suggests that transmitter attachment and/or handling altered the movement pattern for the first 72 hours after tagging. During the period of observation, J. lalandii displayed classical nomadic behaviour.