Abstract

The site fidelity of mummichogs (Fundulus heteroclitus) within the upper Miramichi River estuary, New Brunswick, Canada, was investigated to assess the value of using this fish as a sentinel species for monitoring effects of point source anthropogenic effluents such as pulp and paper mill effluent. During the ice-free season (May to November) of 2002, 4123 adult mummichogs (>30 mm TL) were captured, by beach seine and minnow trap, biweekly from four sites within the estuary. Fish were marked intramuscularly using Visible Implant Elastomer (Northwest Marine Technologies, Inc., Shaw Island, Wash., U.S.). Recaptures were made at the marking sites and elsewhere during this period and again during the ice-free season of April to November 2003. A total of 639 (15.5% of those marked) mummichogs were recaptured with 617 (96.6%) found within 200 m of the point of initial release. Twenty-nine of the 617 were recaptured 2 or 3 times at sites of original marking. The remaining 22 recaptured fish moved distances ranging from 600 to 3600 m up- and downstream of initial marking sites. Eighty-two percent of recaptures were made within 12 weeks of the start of marking with the remainder recovered up to 72 weeks later. These findings are consistent with results from studies of mummichog movement in smaller water bodies and other parts of the species' range. With regard to mobility, these results add to the growing body of literature supporting the usefulness of mummichogs as a sentinel species in environmental monitoring programs for point-source impacts in Atlantic Canadian estuaries.

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