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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 638:137-148 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13239

Incorporating depth into habitat use descriptions for sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and habitat overlap with other billfishes in the western North Atlantic

Walter J. Bubley1*, Benjamin Galuardi2, Amy W. Dukes1, Wallace E. Jenkins1

1South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
2School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Fairhaven, MA 02719, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The sailfish Istiophorus platypterus is a circumglobal billfish species. It is commonly targeted in recreational fisheries and caught as by-catch in commercial fisheries, and therefore fisheries management would benefit from an enhanced understanding of basic patterns of the species’ daily and seasonal movements. Between 2002 and 2007, 87 billfish were tagged with pop-off satellite archival tags in the Atlantic waters off the coast of South Carolina, USA, including sailfish (n = 54), blue marlin Makaira nigricans (n = 15), and white marlin Kajikia albida (n = 18). Only fish meeting specific tag program criteria and length of tag attachment were selected for further analysis (sailfish, n = 19; blue marlin, n = 4; white marlin, n = 3). Differential horizontal and vertical movement patterns were observed within sailfish by season. Two- and three-dimensional (3D) analyses showed differential spatial niche use by sailfish. Among the istiophorid species, 3D analysis showed less overlap when occupying similar horizontal areas. The results from this study, in conjunction with similar studies from other areas, provide a better understanding of habitat usage that can be applied to address uncertainties in ecology or management, such as characterization of stock structure, identifying potential spawning habitat or intra-specific competition, providing correction factors for indices of abundance, and characterizing vulnerability to fishing gear.


KEY WORDS: Pop-off satellite archival tag · Three-dimensional habitat utilization · White marlin · Blue marlin


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Cite this article as: Bubley WJ, Galuardi B, Dukes AW, Jenkins WE (2020) Incorporating depth into habitat use descriptions for sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and habitat overlap with other billfishes in the western North Atlantic. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 638:137-148. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13239

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