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Tracking seasonal migrations of redfish (Sebastes spp.) in and around the Gulf of St. Lawrence using otolith elemental fingerprints

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Large concentrations of beaked redfish (Sebastes mentella and Sebastes fasciatus) overwinter in the Cabot Strait and the approaches of the Gulf of St. Lawrence each year. Synoptic research vessel surveys indicate that redfish are distributed more widely in the summer than in the winter, particularly within the Gulf. Significant differences in the trace element composition of the otolith ("otolith elemental fingerprint") were observed among summer aggregations, indicating that the aggregations maintained some degree of separation while in the Gulf. Sebastes mentella and S. fasciatus were readily distinguished based on otolith elemental fingerprints. Using the elemental fingerprints of the summer samples as a natural tag, we found that S. mentella tended to move out of the Gulf in the winter. Aggregations of S. mentella found in the east during the summer were not found in our winter collections. The elemental fingerprints of S. mentella from the Saguenay Fjord were clearly distinct from redfish further east in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, indicating that this group had been separated from other redfish for much of their life. The implications of our findings extend not only to the fisheries management of redfish, but also to the extent of movement expected of deepwater fish species.

Chaque année, de grands rassemblements de sébastes (« beaked redfish », Sebastes mentella et S. fasciatus) passent l'hiver dans le détroit de Cabot et les abords du golfe du Saint-Laurent. Des inventaires synoptiques faits par des navires de recherche indiquent que les sébastes ont une répartition plus étendue en été qu'en hiver, particulièrement dans le golfe. On observe des différences significatives dans la composition en éléments en traces des otolithes (« signature des éléments dans les otolithes ») dans les regroupements d'été, ce qui indique que ces regroupements maintiennent un certain degré de séparation pendant leur séjour dans le golfe. Sebastes mentella et S. fasciatus se distinguent clairement d'après la signature des éléments en traces dans leurs otolithes. En utilisant la signature des éléments des échantillons d'été comme étiquettes naturelles, nous découvrons que S. mentella a tendance à quitter le golfe pendant l'hiver. Les regroupements de S. mentella trouvés dans l'est durant l'été ne se retrouvent pas dans nos récoltes d'hiver. Les signatures des éléments des S. mentella du fjord du Saguenay sont nettement distinctes de celles des sébastes vivant plus à l'est dans le golfe du Saint-Laurent, ce qui indique que les sébastes du Saguenay ont été séparés des autres sébastes pour une grande partie de leur vie. Les conséquences de nos observations affectent non seulement la gestion des pêches de sébastes, mais elles concernent aussi l'importance des déplacements attendus chez les espèces de poissons d'eau profonde. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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