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Distribution of jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus) larvae and juveniles in the East China Sea, with special reference to the larval transport by the Kuroshio Current

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Horizontal distribution patterns of jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus) larvae and juveniles were investigated in the East China Sea between 4 February and 30 April 2001. A total of 1549 larvae and juveniles were collected by bongo and neuston nets at 357 stations. The larvae were concentrated in the frontal area between the Kuroshio Current and shelf waters in the upstream region of the Kuroshio. The abundance of small larvae (<3 mm notochord length) was highest in the southern East China Sea (SECS) south of 28°N, suggesting that the principal spawning ground is formed in the SECS from late winter to spring. Jack mackerel also spawned in the northern and central East China Sea (NECS and CECS, respectively), as some small larvae were also collected in these areas. In the SECS, the abundance of small larvae was highest in February and gradually decreased from March to April. The habitat temperature of small larvae in the SECS and CECS (20–26°C) was higher than that in the NECS (15–21°C), suggesting higher growth rates in the SECS and CECS than in the NECS. The juveniles (10- to 30-mm standard length) became abundant in the NECS off the west coast of Kyushu Island and CECS in April and were collected in association with scyphozoans typical of the Kuroshio waters. However, juveniles were rarely collected in the SECS, where the small larvae were concentrated. Considering the current systems in the study area, a large number of the eggs and larvae spawned and hatched in the SECS would be transported northeastward by the Kuroshio and its branches into the jack mackerels’ nursery grounds, such as the shallow waters off the west coast of Kyushu and the Pacific coast of southern Japan.

Keywords: East China Sea; Kuroshio Current; Trachurus japonicus; horizontal distribution; jack mackerel; larval fish transport; recruitment; spawning ground

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Fisheries Research Agency, 1551-8 Taira-machi, Nagasaki 851–2213, Japan 2: Hokkaido National Fisheries Research Institute, 116 Katsurakoi, Kushiro 085–0802, Japan

Publication date: 2006-11-01

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