A Central north Pacific spawning ground for striped marlin, Tetrapturus audax
Abstract:Istiophorid billfishes are notoriously difficult to identify to species, especially early life history stages. Traditional use of morphology and pigment based characters for species separation of larvae can fail when faced with moderate levels of intra-specific phenotypic plasticity. Unfortunately, as the early life history of marine fishes can play an important role in reproductive success and management strategies, we are potentially missing or confounding valuable data by misidentifying specimens. We recently presented a DNA based method of identification for near real-time processing of ichthyoplankton samples. Using this method we have unambiguously identified seven striped marlin larvae from Hawaiian waters. Additional analysis of DNA sequence data shows that these larvae all have unique mitochondrial haplo-types indicating they each had different mothers and were not the result of a single chance event. This represents the first detection of spawning activity in an area that historically has been regarded as only nursery habitat for this species. This finding has important ramifications for fishery management as striped marlin represent a significant portion of the billfish catch in the Hawaii-based longline fishery.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2006
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