Open Access

Underwater observations of fish behavior in traps

  • W. L. High1 and
  • I. E. Ellis1
Helgoländer wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen24:BF01609524


1. Saturation diving from the undersea laboratories Tektite II, Hydro-Lab and Edalhab permitted scientists to conduct extended in situ observations of fish within the influence of traps. The 14, 5 and 4 day studies were conducted in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bahama Islands and Florida during April, 1970, December, 1971, and January, 1972.

2. Virgin Island style traps captured the greatest number of fish, although they were smaller than those captured in experimental traps. Trap entrance design was a major factor in its effectiveness. An ungated web tunnel worked poorly when the orifice slit was drawn tight because fish would not readily push through it. However, when loosened, very large fish entered, including several groupers and 1.8 m long nurse sharks. Few fish escaped through the Virgin Island trap tunnels, whereas numerous fish were seen swimming from the gated experimental trap tunnels.

3. Cut bait seemed to play a minor role in attracting fish to traps. However, large fish were attracted by escape efforts of smaller trapped fish. Trap location in relation to natural fish aggregating areas or movement routes affected the catch.

4. Numerous behavioral characteristics relating to fishes within the influence of the traps were noted, including territorial defense, social behavior and predator-prey relationships.