Based on the data gathered by echo-sounder buoys attached to drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (dFADs) across tropical oceans, the current study applies a Machine Learning protocol to examine the temporal trends of tuna schools’ association to drifting objects. Using a binary output, metrics typically used in the literature were adapted to account for the fact that the entire tuna aggregation under the dFAD was considered. The median time it took tuna to colonize the dFADs for the first time varied between 25 and 43 days, depending on the ocean, and the longest soak and colonization times were registered in the Pacific Ocean. The tuna schools’ Continuous Residence Times were generally shorter than Continuous Absence Times (median values between 5 and 7 days, and 9 and 11 days, respectively), in line with the results found by previous studies. Using a regression output, two novel metrics, namely aggregation time and disaggregation time, were estimated to obtain further insight into the symmetry of the aggregation process. Across all oceans, the time it took for the tuna aggregation to depart from the dFADs was not significantly longer than the time it took for the aggregation to form. The value of these results in the context of the “ecological trap” hypothesis is discussed, and further analyses to enrich and make use of this data source are proposed.
Recommended citation: Navarro-García M, Precioso D, Gavira-O’Neill K, Torres-Barrán A, Gordo Gómez D, Gallego V, Gómez-Ullate D (2023) “Aggregation dynamics of tropical tunas around drifting floating objects based on large-scale echo-sounder data”. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 715:129-143.