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Fine-scale movements of the swordfish Xiphias gladius in the Southern California Bight

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This study reports on the fine-scale movements of swordfish (Xiphias gladius) outfitted with pop-off satellite archival transmitters (PSATs) in the Southern California Bight (SCB). PSATs were deployed on basking swordfish using traditional harpoon methods from 2004 to 2006. Transmitters were programmed for short-term deployment (2–90 days) and re-acquired using a signal direction finder. High-resolution (min−1) depth and temperature data from nine swordfish (approximately 45–120 kg) were collected (>193 days). All swordfish displayed diurnal vertical movements similar to those reported for other geographic locations. The dominant diurnal movement pattern entailed swordfish remaining below the thermocline (>68 ± 15 m) during the day and near the surface, within the upper-mixed layer, at night. Collectively, the average daytime depth (±SE) was 273 ± 11 m and the average night depth 31 ± 5 m. Three distinct vertical behaviors were recorded: 35% of the records following a strict diurnal pattern, with the entire day below the thermocline and the entire night near the surface; 52% of the records revealed routine surface-basking events during the day, with an otherwise similar distribution at night; and 13% of the records exhibited surface-oriented activity during the day and night. Surface basking (<3 m during the day) was recorded for eight individuals and occurred on 131 of the 193 days (68% of the dataset). Collectively, surface basking accounted for 8% of the total daytime records. The relevance of these vertical behaviors to SCB fisheries is discussed.

Keywords: Xiphias gladius; fisheries; swordfish; vertical distribution

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2010


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