Historical changes in juvenile southern bluefin tuna Thunnus maccoyii growth rates based on otolith measurements
Suspected historic changes in juvenile southern bluefin tuna Thunnus maccoyii growth rates were investigated using otolith increment width data. Four hundred and ninety otoliths were selected from fish estimated to be between 1 and 41 years-old. The distance between the first five annuli were measured on the otoliths, giving estimates of otolith growth for age classes 1+ to 4+ years for fish spawned from the early 1960s to mid 1990s. The data showed that growth rates of juveniles (age 1+ and 2+ years) started to increase at around 1979–1980, and that growth continued to increase throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Lee’s phenomenon was not observed in the data. Correlation tests did not reveal clear relationships between annual otolith growth and regional environmental variables such as sea surface temperature or Southern Oscillation Index. The increase in otolith growth, however, was consistent with juvenile growth estimates obtained from other sources, and correlated with large-scale trends in population size and environmental conditions.
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