Site fidelity of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L. as deduced from telemetry and stable isotope studies

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A study was performed to test the hypothesis that Atlantic cod Gadus morhua captured within fjords do not migrate across the sill into outer fjord segments or coastal waters. An 18 month long telemetry experiment, corroborated by recapture patterns, showed that 40% of the tagged fish crossed the sill. The majority of the fish that crossed the sill, however, returned after short excursions of only a few days. Many fish remained stationary at or near the release location, and migrations up the fjord into brackish water appeared more frequent than migration out of the fjord. The stable isotope analyses showed significant differences between the inner and the outer fjord segments, and this was seen for both adults and juveniles. This suggests that the Atlantic cod in the two areas have different diets and probably utilize different foraging ranges. Thus, both the isotope studies and the telemetry experiment suggest limited cross-sill migration and rather high site fidelity. Marketing restrictions only apply to fish caught in the fjord proper, not the comparatively clean outer fjord system beyond the sill. Based on this study of migratory tendencies, it is concluded that contamination levels in Atlantic cod in both the Frierfjord proper and the outer fjords probably result from local exposure and appear little affected by inter-fjord migration.

Keywords: Skagerrak; coastal cod; migration; stable isotope; telemetry

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Marine Research, Flødevigen Marine Research Station, NO-4817 HIS, Norway 2: Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadalléen 21, N-0349 Oslo, Norway

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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