Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute has received a $2,500 gift from the organizer of the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament to study the diet and migratory patterns of king mackerel.
“We’ve partnered with the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament for more than 30 years, and are indebted to them for their continued support of our students and research,” Dr. Quinton White, executive director of the JU Marine Science Research Institute, said at a news event Friday, Dec. 6. “This research is timely and will help us unravel some of the mystery of kingfish migration.”
JU graduate student Andrea Leontiou will conduct the research, which focuses on recreational and commercial catches of the fish in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
By developing a better idea of the stock structures of king mackerel in the Southeastern United States, we can find ways to ensure they are well maintained for future fishing,” she said.
Capt. Jim Suber of Jacksonville Marine Charities Inc., which holds the Kingfish Tournament, said it was critical for the organization to fund the research.
“This falls into the category of where we need to be with Jacksonville University and the city to sustain this species,” he said. “Without the species, we would need to change the name of our tournament. We feel strongly that this investment in the survival of the kingfish is directly related to our tournament’s future. We hope the research helps us learn more to keep the species strong.”
For the study, stable isotope analysis will be conducted to determine chemical differences in both stocks’ diets and the waters in which they spend most of their time. Instead of using dorsal spines as has been done in the past, the king mackerel’s otoliths (earstones) will be studied. These calcified structures provide an uninterrupted record of the internal and external environment of the fish.
“By analyzing these structures, we will be able to determine both the waters in which a king mackerel has lived, and what it ate during different stages of its life,” Leontiou noted.
The otoliths from the fish were collected from Atlantic king mackerel during the 2013 Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, while Gulf Coast samples were collected through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
About Jacksonville Marine Charities Inc.
About Jacksonville Marine Charities Inc. is committed to providing an outstanding fishing tournament, the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, which will promote and encourage marine conservation; create, preserve, and maintain fishing habitats, both natural and artificial; promote public access to such facilities; and foster education with regard to marine science and research. For more information, visit http://kingfishtournament.com.
About the JU Marine Science Research Institute
The JU MSRI is the premier biological and environmental research and education facility on the St. Johns River. The two-story, 32,000-square-foot “certified-green” building has classrooms, laboratories, offices for the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and areas for teaching Duval County public school students. For more information, visit www.ju.edu/msri.
Media contact: Phillip Milano, Director of News and Publications, Jacksonville University, firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 256-7042.