SMURFs are actually mesh baskets used to research baby fish

From April until June, the Atmosphere Resort house reef will be used as a research site to study baby fish. This research project is run by marine biologists from Curtin University in Perth (Australia). To study baby fish, we are using “SMURFs”. SMURFs stand for “Standard Monitoring Unit for Recruitment of Fishes”. They are mesh-baskets filled with pebbles, sand or rubbish. The baskets are placed in the ocean for 9 days per session. At the end of each session, we collect the baskets to see which baby fish were attracted to each unit.

SMURFs are mesh baskets filled with stones and sand that attract baby fish as part of a research project at Atmosphere in Dauin Dumaguete Philippines

This method is used to study the recruitment of camouflaged fish. Recruitment is a term used to describe the process of larval fish, which usually swim in the open ocean, settling down on the reef. When fish larvae settle they rapidly change from being transparent to coloured, and they have a growth spurt in the first days on the reef.

What attracts baby fish to Dauin?

There are many reasons why we want to learn more about the recruitment of fish. The most important one is that we don’t know yet why places like Dauin seem to attract a lot of baby frogfish and other critters. Without this information it is really hard to adequately protect the areas that are an important habitat for these baby fish.

Baby frogfish are more common in Dauin Dumaguete Philippines than most other places. The SMURF research at Atmosphere Resort will hopefully explain why.

As you might have noticed, finding baby fish while diving is very difficult, which is why SMURFs are an interesting alternative. While you might see researchers getting the SMURFs out of the ocean at some point during your holiday, there is no need to worry about the fish. We are only identifying the species and then returning them to the ocean unharmed.

If you see the units under water, could we please kindly ask you not to disturb what it is inside and not to remove anything out of the units either? Your cooperation will ultimately help the protection of the species we love to see under water.

For more information about this research project you can contact Maarten De Brauwer on maarten.debrauwer@curtin.edu.au or visit the website crittersresearch.wordpress.com.

Maarten De Brauwer

This shallow SMURF will help researchers understand why juvenile marinelife prefers the habitat in Dauin, Dumaguete, Philippines

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