Spiny lobster recruitment off Western Australia
The phyllosoma larval stages of the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus are dispersed up to hundreds of kilometers offshore and spend almost a year in the south eastern Indian Ocean. At the end of this phase, some late-stages have returned to near the continental shelf off Western Australia and some final stage phyllosomata metamorphose to the puerulus stage, which then swims across the shelf to settle in the coastal reefs. This paper examines data from a cruise by the FRV Southern Surveyor in September 1991, designed to sample both the sub-surface and surface distributions of the larvae and pueruli of P. cygnus as influenced by the Leeuwin Current, in an attempt to resolve some of the questions concerning the location and the stimulus for metamorphosis, as well as the mechanisms of transport of the puerulus across the shelf. Metamorphosis from the final phyllosoma larva to the puerulus stage in P. cygnus was confirmed to occur mainly near the vicinity of the shelfbreak. However, the stimulus, if it exists, remains unclear. The annual level of puerulus settlement along the coast of Western Australia is related to the strength of the Leeuwin Current and settlement is higher when the current is stronger. Increased mixing of oceanic and shelf waters caused by stronger flows of the Leeuwin Current may provide increased transport of the pueruli of P. cygnus towards the coast thereby increasing survival of pueruli to settlement.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1997-07-01
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