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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 404:227-240 (2010)  -  DOI:

Horizontal and vertical distribution of larvae of Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis in patches entrained in mesoscale eddies

Keisuke Satoh*

National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, 5-7-1 Orido, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, Shizuoka 424-8633, Japan

ABSTRACT: Nine high density larval populations (patches) of Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis were detected and 7 patches were tracked with reference buoys for 28 to 171 h in the northwestern Pacific Ocean in May–June 2004 to 2008. Buoy trajectories and surface current velocities and directions measured by acoustic Doppler current profiler data showed close agreement. Growth rates for the sampled larvae (3.0 to 9.9 mm standard length [SL], 4 to 17 d after hatch), estimated by the daily modes of SL, correspond to growth rates estimated from otolith daily ring analysis. These results indicate that the same populations were sampled by tracking the buoy on almost all the sampling days. At fine- (100s of m to km) and mid-scale observations (~15 to 30 km range), patches consisted of a number of cohorts which had different distributions within the patch. The larval spatial structure was studied using variograms. At the fine scale, age-specific sills, ranges and spatial dependence of patches were similar; at the mid scale, these indexes showed stability during the trackings. Horizontally, larvae formed patches within an approximate 10 km range and advected together during the larval stage. Larvae were only distributed in the mixed layer and diel vertical movement was not clearly observed. Patches were entrained in mesoscale eddies (~100 to 500 km diameter) which propagated westward. Such mesoscale eddies are known to coalesce with the Kuroshio current. The spawning area and the recruitment fishing grounds are thereby linked by the Kuroshio. Results suggest that cohorts have a stable spatial structure after fertilization (i.e. during advection, while entrained in mesoscale eddies). Therefore, the positional relationship between spawning events and mesoscale eddies is concluded to be important for the recruitment process.

KEY WORDS: Stability of spatial structure · Horizontal distribution · Vertical distribution · Mesoscale eddy · Kuroshio · Larval patch · Thunnus orientalis · Northwestern Pacific Ocean

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Cite this article as: Satoh K (2010) Horizontal and vertical distribution of larvae of Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis in patches entrained in mesoscale eddies. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 404:227-240.

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