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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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A mixture of coastal and oceanic fish larvae indicated how an eddy, forced by a boundary current, entrained coastal waters offshore.

Graphic: Indiana Riley

Garcia V, Schilling HT, Cruz DO, Hawes SM, Everett JD, Roughan M, Miskiewicz AG, Pakhomov EA, Jeffs A, Suthers IM

Entrainment and development of larval fish assemblages in two contrasting cold core eddies of the East Australian Current system

When small ocean eddies interact with the continental shelf, they entrain enriched coastal waters along with commercially important larvae. Oceanographic and biological dynamics makes investigating this potential offshore nursery a complex problem. To trace the entrainment process, Garcia and her team used the relative proportion of coastal taxa to larval myctophids (an abundant and diverse oceanic family of lantern fish) – in a small frontal eddy only a week after formation, and an older cyclonic eddy that touched the shelf. The ratio was the highest in the upper mixed layer, aligning with the relative densities of entrained and eddy waters. The relative mixing of coastal larvae provides new biological insights to a process commonly seen in satellite imagery.


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