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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 556:209-221 (2016)  -  DOI:

First use of satellite tags to examine movement and habitat use of big skates Beringraja binoculata in the Gulf of Alaska

Thomas J. Farrugia1,*, Kenneth J. Goldman2, Cindy Tribuzio3, Andrew C. Seitz1

1School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 905 N. Koyukuk Dr., Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220, USA
2Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 3298 Douglas Pl., Homer, AK 99603-7942, USA
3Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories, National Marine Fisheries Service, 17109 Pt. Lena Loop Rd., Juneau, AK 99801-8626, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Big skate Beringraja binoculata is the most frequently landed skate in the Gulf of Alaska portion of the Northeast Pacific Ocean, with recent stock assessment surveys showing relatively healthy skate stocks and continued interest from the commercial fishing industry to increase skate landings. Considered a data-poor species, there is a need for additional ecological information on big skates, including movement patterns and habitat use. We deployed pop-up satellite archival transmitting (PSAT) tags on 8 big skates in the Gulf of Alaska and set the tags to release 1 yr after deployment. The minimum distance traveled by big skates varied between 6 and 205 km, with 1 individual traveling at least 2100 km based on light geolocation data. Three individuals showed evidence of having made long-range movement and crossed at least 1 management boundary, and 3 remained relatively close to their tagging locations. Two tags did not report. The PSAT tags also extended the maximum documented depth of big skates to over 500 m and confirmed that they are thermally tolerant, occupying waters between 2 and 18°C. Because the total catch of big skate is divided into multiple areas and limited movement between areas is assumed, information from this study will aid in the development of appropriate spatial management plans for this species.

KEY WORDS: Satellite telemetry · PAT · Depth utilization · Temperature tolerance · Fisheries management · Connectivity

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Cite this article as: Farrugia TJ, Goldman KJ, Tribuzio C, Seitz AC (2016) First use of satellite tags to examine movement and habitat use of big skates Beringraja binoculata in the Gulf of Alaska. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 556:209-221.

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