Although most bonefish anglers participate in catch-and-release almost entirely, mortality can still occur. Because of the stress associated with angling and handling bonefish, locomotory (ability to move independently) “impairment” can cause bones to become easy meals for sharks.
A group of scientists set out to deter bonefish shark dinners with the use specialty “recovery bags.”
In their study of a group of bonefish in Eleuthera, Bahamas, they found that fish that were held in a recovery bag for up to 15 minutes were more likely to survive.
“Bonefish held in recovery bags exhibited significantly less locomotory impairment immediately post-release, and higher maximum tail beat frequencies and amplitudes up to 15 minutes post-release, which was likely due to the time spent in the recovery bag,” said the study. “Bonefish in the recovery bag treatment also spent more time resting in possible refuge areas, which may facilitate further recovery and avoidance from predation.”
For details, see the complete research paper at the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology [$ Pay Site].