Researchers at Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute are stepping up their study of the diet and migration patterns of king mackerel thanks to a small grant from the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament.
The project involves analyzing ear-bone samples taken from mackerel found off Florida’s east and west coasts to see where they go and what they eat.
Jacksonville University assistant professor Dr. Jeremy Stalker says it’s like examining the rings of a tree. The bigger the fish get, the more layers their bones have.
“As it eats, as it swims through water," Stalker explained, "the ions that are in the water naturally get incorporated into the bone itself."
"That bone sort-of acts as a tape recorder of where that fish has been. You just have to have the right tools to decipher that recording.”
Stalker said while mackerel are doing well in U.S. waters, they aren’t in as good shape worldwide.
Mapping the movements of Florida king mackerel, he said, will help ensure the species’ global survival.
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