The Department of Environment (DOE), in collaboration with Marine Conservation International (MCI), continues with its Top Marine Predator Project. The project has researchers monitoring the shark, grouper and snapper populations around the Cayman Islands. For a number of years the DOE and MCI have been monitoring shark populations, thanks to a grant from the UK Darwin Plus award, the project has now opened up to other apex predators.
The goal of the project is to monitor where the species are, and how they are doing. The marine ecosystem is very complex, and apex predators have an incredible influence on the balance of the system. The project also hopes to get ahead of any potential overfishing problems, that have the potential to arise. The key is to find sustainability.
The research team is seeking the assistance of local fishermen. All fishermen are invited to share their experience and observation about the mutton snapper, the lagoon snapper and the tiger grouper. The researchers will be tagging the fish to help monitor their movement. Small fish will be tagged with beads on the dorsal fin, while larger fishes will have an acoustic tag implemented into the stomach cavity. The acoustic tags will send pings that will be retrieved by the network of receivers the DOE has placed around the island. Any one that returns an acoustic tag will be given a monetary reward.