Documenting Temporal and Spatial Habitat Utilization of Intertidal Oyster Reefs by Commercial, Recreational, Sport, and Ecologically Important Fish and Crustacean Species in Georgia’s Tidal Rivers
PIs: Thomas Bliss, Tancy Moore, and Randal Walker (University of Georgia - Marine Extension Service)
Georgia Coastal Management Program (through a Coastal Incentive Grant)
While oyster reefs are classified as essential fish habitat, no studies have examined nekton associated with intertidal oyster reefs in tidal rivers in Georgia. The purpose of this study was to sample six intertidal oyster reefs seasonally in three tidal rivers (Wilmington River, Altamaha River, and Satilla River) at high tide along Georgia’s coast.
Sampling identified a total of 62 species: 43 fish and 19 crustaceans associated with intertidal reefs. Juvenile fish species were represented in 71 percent of the fish species identified. The study also found two species of fish not previously associated with intertidal reefs. Analysis of similarity did not find any differences in fish or crustacean communities based on location, but did detect a seasonal difference for fish but not for crustacean. The seasonal difference in fish was attributed to an increase in juvenile Micropogonias undulates in winter and spring.
In order to disseminate study information to the public, the research team created a brochure including five different maps of Liberty and Bryan (combined on one map), Chatham, Glynn, Camden, and McIntosh counties. One side of the brochure features a detailed map of the Georgia coastline with fishing spot suggestions and boat ramp locations, while the other side provides general information about fishing and marine life. The research team also reprinted fishing maps for Camden County, replacing the brochure’s back panels with information about the essential fish habitat functions of salt marshes and oyster reefs.
Bliss, T.H., A. Power, T. Moore, and R. Walker. 2010. Temporal and Spatial Habitat Utilization of Intertidal Oyster Reefs by Commercial, Recreational, and Ecologically Important Fish and Crustacean Species in Georgia’s Tidal Creeks. Final Report, April 2010. Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division. Contract # NA08NOS4190461. 57pp.