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Sympatric spawning of Anguilla marmorata and Anguilla japonica in the western North Pacific Ocean

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Extensive collections were made of the larvae of the temperate Japanese eel Anguilla japonica and the tropical giant mottled eel Anguilla marmorata in an overlapping area of the North Equatorial Current region of the western North Pacific Ocean. Collections of 189 A. marmorata and > 2500 A. japonica larvae during nine surveys from 1991 to 2007 showed that these two anguillid eels have similar spawning areas just west of the southern West Mariana Ridge. In July to August 2006 and August 2007, morphologically and genetically identified A. marmorata preleptocephali were mainly collected between 14·5–15° N and 142–142·5° E, where A. japonica preleptocephali were also caught in some of the same net tows. Fewer A. marmorata preleptocephali, however, were collected (n = 31) compared to those of A. japonica (n = c. 165), and fewer small larvae of A. marmorata were collected per tow than A. japonica (n = 1–10 and 1–294, respectively), suggesting relatively smaller spawning aggregations of A. marmorata. The distribution of preleptocephali and small larvae was wider in longitude in A. marmorata (131– 143° E) than in A. japonica (137–143° E), while the latitudinal range was almost the same (12–17° N). Although spawning by these two species overlaps both spatially and temporally, the tropical eels of the North Pacific population of A. marmorata probably have a much longer spawning season with fewer spawners, at least in summer, and recruit to a much wider latitudinal range of growth habitats.
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Keywords: North Equational Current; eel; leptocephali; migration; spawning

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-15-1 Minamidai, Nakano, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan 2: School of Marine Biosciences, Kitasato University, Ofunato, Iwate 022-0101, Japan

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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