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Growth variation in larval Makaira nigricans

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The Atlantic blue marlin Makaira nigricans larvae were collected from Exuma Sound, Bahamas and the Straits of Florida over three summers (2000–2002). Sagittal otoliths were extracted and read under light microscopy to determine relationships between standard length (LS) and age for larvae from each year and location. Otolith growth trajectories were significantly different between locations: after the first 5–6 days of life, larvae from Exuma Sound grew significantly faster than larvae from the Straits of Florida. Exponential regression coefficients were similar among years for Exuma Sound larvae (mean instantaneous growth rate, GL = 0·125), but differed between years for larvae from the Straits of Florida (GL = 0·086–0·089). Differences in larval growth rates between locations resulted in a 4–6 mm difference in LS by day 15 of larval life. These differences in growth appeared to be unrelated to mean ambient water temperatures, and may have been caused by location‐specific differences in prey composition or availability. Alternatively, population‐specific differences in maternal condition may have contributed to these differences in early larval growth.
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Keywords: Exuma Sound; Istiophoridae; Straits of Florida; age and growth; billfish larvae; otoliths

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Marine Biology and Fisheries Division, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL 33149-1098, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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