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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 259:263-272 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps259263

Tropical eels Anguilla spp. recruiting to Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean: taxonomy, patterns of recruitment and early life histories

Tony Robinet1, Raymonde Lecomte-Finiger2,*, Karine Escoubeyrou2,3, Eric Feunteun1

1Laboratoire de Biologie et Environnement Marins, EA 3168, Université de La Rochelle, Avenue Michel Crépeau, 17000 La Rochelle, France
2Laboratoire d'Ichtyoécologie Tropicale et Méditerranéenne, EPHE, CNRS, UMR 8046, Université de Perpignan, 50 Avenue de Villeneuve, 66860 Perpignan cedex, France
3Present address: Observatoire Océanologique, Laboratoire ARAGO, UMR 7621, Université Paris VI, 66651 Banyuls-sur-mer cedex, France
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Anguillid glass eels were sampled between October 2000 and October 2001 in an estuarine goby-fry traditional fishery of Réunion Island (21°S, 56°E), Mascarene Islands, western Indian Ocean. Recruitment occurred from November to April. Among the 633 specimens collected, 4 species were identified by biometric measurements coupled with number of vertebrae (61.9% of the specimens were Anguilla marmorata, 19.4% A. bicolor bicolor, 18.3% A. mossambica and 0.3% A. nebulosa labiata). A. mossambica had the shortest total length at recruitment (51.2 ± 2.7 mm), compared to A. marmorata (53.3 ± 2.5 mm) and A. bicolor bicolor (54.0 ± 2.1 mm). Most juvenile pigmentation corresponded to the glass eel stage (VA to VB). We extracted 34 otoliths and visualized their microstructure by SEM. The short-finned A. bicolor bicolor had the shortest leptocephalus stage (46.2 ± 5.8 d) and age at recruitment (79.8 ± 7.7 d). The long-finned glass eels had the same age at recruitment (120.2 ± 24.7 and 123.6 ± 17 d for A. marmorata and A. mossambica respectively) and the same leptocephalus stage duration (96.9 ± 26.4 and 102.1 ± 17.2 d for A. marmorata and A. mossambica respectively). Otolith readings and sampling dates showed that A. mossambica hatched about 2 mo earlier than A. marmorata. Their identical early life histories should imply adjoining spawning grounds, whereas A. bicolor bicolor must spawn in a distinctive location. Hypotheses for spawning area locations are discussed as a function of the region¹s oceanic circulation.

KEY WORDS: Anguilla spp. · Indian Ocean · Réunion Island · Migration · Otoliths · Recruitment age

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