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Anguilla rostrata glass eel migration and recruitment in the estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence

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This study describes catches of Anguilla rostrata glass eels and associated oceanographic conditions in the St Lawrence Estuary and Gulf. Ichthyoplankton survey data suggest that they enter the Gulf primarily in May, migrate at the surface at night, and disperse broadly once they have passed Cabot Strait. They arrive in estuaries beginning at about mid-June and through the month of July. Migration extends west up to Québec City, in the freshwater zone of the St Lawrence Estuary, 1000 km west of Cabot Strait. Anguilla rostrata glass eels travel between Cabot Strait and receiving estuaries at a straight-line ground speed of c. 10–15 km day−1. Catches of fish per unit effort in estuaries in the St Lawrence system are much lower than those reported for the Atlantic coast of Canada. Low abundance of A. rostrata glass eels in the St Lawrence system may be due to cold surface temperatures during the migration period which decrease swimming capacity, long distances from the spawning ground to Cabot Strait and from Cabot Strait to the destination waters (especially the St Lawrence River), complex circulation patterns, and hypoxic conditions in bottom waters of the Laurentian Channel and the St Lawrence Estuary.
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Keywords: abundance; depth; oceanographic conditions; speed; temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec 201, Place Charles-LeMoyne, Longueuil, Québec, J4K 2T5 Canada 2: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Box 1236, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A 7M8 Canada 3: Ministère des Pêches et des Océans, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne C. P. 1000, Mont-Joli, Québec, G5H 3Z4 Canada 4: Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec 186, rue Fraser, Rivière-du-Loup, Québec, G5R 1C8 Canada

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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