Cooke Lab
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Barracuda Research in the Cooke Lab

The great barracuda (Spyraena barracuda) are distributed within Western Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Indo-Pacific regions, typically inhabiting reef areas, seagrass beds and offshore pelagic areas. Barracuda are a piscivorous species often observed both in small schools (2 or 3 individuals) or exhibiting solitary behaviour. At present, very little is known about the basic biology of the great barracuda in terms of foraging activities, spawning behaviour, and seasonal migration. Apart from the ecological importance as an apex predator, barracuda hold great importance to humans in terms of recreational and subsistence fishing and ciguatera poisoning (a disease associated with human consumption of barracuda meat).
The Flats Ecology and Conservation Program (which includes members from Carleton University, the University of Illinois and Cape Eleuthera Institute) is currently conducting research using state-of-the-art biotelemetry techniques to link the spatial ecology of the great barracuda and the occurrence of ciguatera poisoning. To date, we have implanted acoustic transmitters in 23 barracuda in the waters of Eleuthera, The Bahamas. These fish are being tracked continuously with an array of more than 50 receiving stations. We are also conducting research on the stress physiology of barracuda relative to different angling practices. During angling we record information such as duration of the fight, duration of handling, and injuries. We also collect a small blood sample and then release the fish. Collectively, this research will unveil information on the basic biology of the great barracuda, leading to a heightened ecological understanding and conservation of the species.

Student: Amanda O'Toole, M.Sc. Candidate

Advisors: Dr. Steven Cooke and Dr. Andy Danylchuk


Flats Ecology and Conservation Program

Flats Update Newsletter-Spring 2008

Cape Eleuthera Institute

Dr. John Ramsdell and Dr. Yasmine Bottien
NOAA Marine Biotoxins Program

Biomonitoring Methods for Toxins

1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, (613) 520-2600