A recent paper in the “Journal of Fish Biology”, by Palau International Coral Reef Center, University of Queensland and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Oceans and Atmosphere, reported for the first time ever, the largest mass spawning aggregations of Bumphead Parrotfish (kamedukl).  The spawning of the giant parrotfish in Palau is the biggest recorded in the world.  There are only two previous reports of bumphead spawning in the scientific literature, from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Wake Islands.  Both of these studies reported the number of kamedukl spawning ranging from 50-100s.   The study by PICRC and colleagues reported spawning of kamedukl in Palau with numbers in the thousands.


The new paper by PICRC research staff Mr. Geory Mereb and colleagues from Australia, including Dr. George Roff, Dr. Christopher Doropoulos, and Professor Peter Mumby, demonstrates the value of local knowledge and collaboration with other researchers.  With Mr. Mereb’s expertise and local knowledge, and his colleagues’ scientific knowledge, they were able to report for the first time ever in scientific literature, the biggest spawning aggregation in the world.  While many people in Palau know about this aggregation, it was not known to science.  This collaboration and partnership was able to bring different expertise and knowledge together to report this amazing discovery to science.

The report of the kamedukl spawning is not the first time local knowledge has surprised the scientific world.  When world-renowned marine scientist, Dr. Bob Johannes, visited Palau in the 1970s, he was surprised at the knowledge of Palauan fishermen about aggregations of fishes such as groupers and rabbitfishes, which at that time, was unknown to science.

This study in Palau has implications for conservation and management of kamedukl throughout the Pacific.  While Palau has a total ban on the harvesting, kamedukl are often targeted by spearfishing at night.  Before and after mass spawning events in Palau, kamedukl sleeps in large numbers.   Identifying additional aggregations of kamedukl in other Pacific island nations and putting special enforcement focus on them will help prevent poaching and harvesting.

In responding to the new scientific paper, PICRC CEO, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu stated, “PICRC is uniquely qualified with its Palauan researchers to merge local and traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge and provide new insights about our marine environment that would help us better manage and conserve them.    With our network of leading researchers from around the world, including the co-authors of this study, PICRC continues to study and report on knowledge that not only contributes to management and conservation efforts here in Palau, but throughout the region and the world.”

For a copy of this paper or any other PICRC publications, please contact Ines Kintoki at the PICRC library by e-mail at ikintoki@picrc.org or calling  at her 488-6950. [/restrict]