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Free Content Distribution of Leptocephali of the Catadromous Anguilla Species in the Western Sargasso Sea in Relation to Water Circulation and Migration

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In a computer simulation leptocephali of the American eel, Anguilla rostrata, were found to drift northwestward from their spawning area and to form a large area of concentration which persisted for months north and northeast of the Bahamas (Power and McCleave, 1983, Fish. Bull. NOAA (U.S.) 881: 483–500). The present study determined the distribution of American eel and European eel, Anguilla anguilla, leptocephali in the western Sargasso Sea in summer and fall to test the simulation model and to relate the distribution to oceanographic features. Leptocephali were sampled with a 3-m Isaacs Kidd Midwater Trawl (1.8-mm mesh) along a transect from the Gulf Stream southeastward into the Sargasso Sea (summer and fall) and from the Bahamas northeastward to the transect line (fall). In summer leptocephali were rare in the Gulf Stream, were abundant just east of the Stream and were abundant deep in the Sargasso Sea, but they were rare at intermediate locations where the concentration was expected. In fall the pattern was similar, but they were also abundant in the Gulf Stream and just off Great Abaco Island. They were still rare at intermediate locations. The model was useful in suggesting long retention in the Sargasso Sea and gradual entry into the Gulf Stream, but the areas of concentration we found were not those shown by the model. The observed distributions fit better with the view that there is considerable recirculation of water and leptocephali deep in the Sargasso Sea and that advection and concentration of leptocephali may occur along the eastern edge of the northern Bahamas and northward in the Sargasso Sea east of the Gulf Stream. This pattern would be produced by the interaction of westward flow from the Sargasso Sea and an anticyclonic circulation cell north of the Bahamas.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1987-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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