Evidence of blue marlin, Makaira nigricans, spawning in the vicinity of Exuma Sound, Bahamas

Joseph E. Serafy, Robert K. Cowen, Claire B. Paris, Thomas R. Capo, Stacy A. Luthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Exuma Sound is a semi-enclosed body of water bounded by islands of the Bahamas. During July 2000, sampling for larval billfish was carried out throughout the Sound's surface waters as well as in adjacent open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A total of 99 larval bill fish (Istiophoridae) was collected. Ninety of the larvae were identifiable as blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) and three as sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus). The remaining larvae were also istiophorids, unidentified to species owing to damage; no larval Xiphias gladius were collected. Larval blue marlin densities ranged from 0 to 3.4 larvae/1000 m2; their sizes ranged from 3.1 mm notochord length to 22.6 mm standard length. Densities tended to be highest north-east of the Sound's central axis, especially within the two regions where exchange with the Atlantic is greatest. Mean densities tended to decrease in the direction of mean flow; mean lengths increased from 8.08 mm at the Sound's mouth to 14.7 mm standard length at its upper reaches. Length-based estimates of larval age ranged from 2.2 to 17.2 days. Given these age estimates and assuming passive surface transport, the blue marlin larvae collected were likely the result of recent spawning in waters that include Exuma Sound and may extend some 200 km south-east of its mouth. This study suggests that Exuma Sound functions as a nursery area for blue marlin, and possibly other billfish species, at least during the summer. Limited sampling just outside Exuma Sound, in the Atlantic Ocean proper, also yielded blue marlin larvae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

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Keywords

  • Age and growth
  • Istiophoridae
  • Larval billfish
  • Nursery grounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography

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