Ovary development in Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides in west Greenland waters
Maturity in adult female Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides was studied in three areas in west Greenland waters: the inshore area in Disko Bay and two offshore areas, Baffin Bay and Davis Strait. The aim was to monitor maturity changes in the inshore fjords of Disko Bay over an extended period from winter to autumn and compare these findings with specimens from Baffin Bay and the presumed spawning area in Davis Strait. A significant difference in maturity level was observed in and between the three areas. In Disko Bay maturity indices increased significantly in August and September both with respect to the gonado‐somatic index (IG) and the size in the leading oocyte cohort. In the period February to May no significant changes were observed. Mature ovaries were only observed among fish >80 cm total length and only among a fraction of these large fish. Offshore areas of Baffin Bay, even though poorly sampled, showed similar signs in the maturity indices as in Disko Bay. Relative to Disko Bay and Baffin Bay, female fish in Davis Strait had more progressed maturity indices. Furthermore, almost all fish in Davis Strait showed signs of progressed maturity contrary to Disko and Baffin Bay. A large proportion of the Greenland halibut in Disko and Baffin Bay apparently did not begin the maturation cycle until very late in their life history or were repeat spawners with a multi‐year maturation cycle. These observations could thus support the hypothesis that Greenland halibut have a prolonged adolescent phase. Atresia was highest in the early phases of maturation in Greenland halibut but relatively high levels of atresia were also observed in fish in more advanced maturity phase. The first was ascribed to fecundity regulation while the latter could be linked to the fish's fitness condition but it was not possible to show this with the available condition index.