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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 461:187-196 (2012)  -  DOI:

Nursery origin of yellowfin tuna in the Hawaiian Islands

R. J. David Wells1,*, Jay R. Rooker1, David G. Itano2

1Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, 1001 Texas Clipper Road, Galveston, Texas 77553, USA
2Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawai’i, 1000 Pope Rd, MSB 312, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: Stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) in otolith cores (first 2 mo of age) of young-of-the-year (YOY) yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares were used as natural tracers to predict the nursery origin of sub-adults (age-1) collected from the Hawaiian Islands. YOY fish were first collected from nurseries throughout the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) to determine whether δ13C and δ18O values of otolith cores (δ13Cotolith and δ18Ootolith) were sufficiently different to discriminate individuals from different nurseries used during the YOY period. Nurseries examined included both nearshore Hawaiian Islands and offshore Hawaiian Islands (Cross Seamount), and 4 locations in the equatorial Pacific Ocean: Line Islands, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, and Philippines. Significant differences existed in δ13Cotolith and δ18Ootolith among YOY yellowfin tuna from different nurseries for each year of the 2 yr study period (2008−2009). Individuals from the nearshore Hawaiian Islands were most enriched in δ18Ootolith, while samples obtained from the Philippines were most depleted in both δ13Cotolith and δ18Ootolith relative to other regions. Inter-annual variability in otolith core chemistry was minor and only observed for individuals collected from the Philippines. Overall classification success from quadratic discriminant function analysis of YOY yellowfin tuna to their respective nursery of collection was 63 and 87% for 2008 and 2009, respectively. Mixed-stock analysis indicated 91% of the sub-adult yellowfin tuna collected from the nearshore Hawaiian Islands originated from this same nursery. In addition, sub-adults from the offshore location within the Hawaiian Islands appear to originate from the nearshore Hawaiian Islands, highlighting the importance of local production and retention of yellowfin tuna to the standing stock and domestic fisheries of Hawaii.

KEY WORDS: Stable carbon and oxygen isotopes · Yellowfin tuna · Nursery origin · Otolith chemistry · Hawaiian Islands · Stock structure

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Cite this article as: Wells RJD, Rooker JR, Itano DG (2012) Nursery origin of yellowfin tuna in the Hawaiian Islands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 461:187-196.

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