This study examined the lunar and diel variation in catch rates and reproductive condition of adult eastern king prawns, Penaeus plebejus, in relatively deep (160 m) coastal waters off south-eastern Queensland. Females numerically dominated catches over most of the lunar cycle and constituted 76% of the weight of the catch. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed an interaction between lunar phase and sex; catches peaked during Lunar Phase 3 (full moon ± 3 days) and were particularly marked for males. This was the only period during the lunar cycle when the sex ratio approached 1:1. There was also an interaction between trawl-time and sex; male catch rates were at a minimum early in the evening, whereas female catch rates were at a maximum then and declined throughout the night. Trawler logbook catch rate data from the same area over a similar period indicated an interaction between lunar cycle and lunar phase. ANOVA revealed an effect of the interaction between phase and sex on the incidence of soft prawns; the incidence of soft males increased during Phase 4 (half moon waning to new moon ± 3 days). Ovary weight also varied between phases and was higher during Phases 2 (half moon waxing to full moon ± 3 days) and 4 (half moon waning to new moon ± 3 days). Trends in the ovary weight and the incidence of histologically mature and ripe females suggested there are two periods of increased spawning activity during each lunar cycle. A cyclic regression fitted to the data explained 93% of the variation in the incidence of ripe females between samples. The influence of these cyclic trends in catch rate and reproductive condition should be considered when monitoring the spawning stock in the fishery and when planning sampling strategies in any future reproductive studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science