Effect of the Leeuwin Current on the Recruitment of Fish and Invertebrates along the Western Australian Coast
N Caputi, WJ Fletcher, A Pearce and CF Chubb
Marine and Freshwater Research
47(2) 147 - 155
The relatively high catch of invertebrate species compared with finfish off Western Australia is in sharp contrast to other regions of the world, where finfish production usually dominates. This low level of finfish production is primarily due to the Leeuwin Current, which consists of warm, low-nutrient waters flowing south along the edge of the continental shelf of the Western Australian coast. In contrast, the other eastern boundary currents in the Southern Hemisphere (Humboldt and Benguela) are associated with upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich waters flowing north and the high rates of primary production resulting in a large finfish production. The Leeuwin Current, being the dominant oceanographic feature off Western Australia, has a major influence on the abundance of many species. The larval phase is the stage mainly affected by the current, but not always with the same result. For example, the strength of the Leeuwin Current has a significant positive influence during the larval stage of the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus). However, the current has a negative influence during the larval life of the scallop, Amusium balloti, in Shark Bay. Similarly for the pelagic finfish species, the current has a negative effect on larval survival of pilchards (Sardinops sagax neopilchardus) but a positive impact for whitebait (Hyperlophus vittatus). Possible mechanisms for the effect of the current include transportation of larvae and temperature effects on spawning success and on survival and growth of larvae.
Full text doi:10.1071/MF9960147
© CSIRO 1996