Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Age and growth, reproductive biology, and histology in Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura marina) in a coastal freshwater lake

Mary E. Egbert A B C D and Roger A. Rulifson A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, East Carolina University, 1000 East Fifth Street, Greenville, NC 27858, USA.

B Department of Biology, East Carolina University, 1000 East Fifth Street, Greenville, NC 27858, USA.

C North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, 1021 Driftwood Drive, Manteo, NC 27954, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: beth.egbert@ncdenr.gov

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(7) 1325-1335 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16211
Submitted: 15 June 2016  Accepted: 3 November 2016   Published: 5 January 2017

Abstract

The Atlantic needlefish (Strongylura marina) is a coastal epipelagic species inhabiting shallow coastal waters along the western Atlantic coast from Maine to Brazil. Little has been published about the species due to lack of commercial or sport value. A population exists in Lake Mattamuskeet, a coastal lake connected to Pamlico Sound (NC, USA) via four man-made canals, and fish access is controlled by water-control structures. Herein we describe the life history and age and growth dynamics of the species in the lake. Based on anecdotal and state reports, we believe this species may exhibit anadromy. Sampling was from March to May 1997 and 1998, and from March to October 2001. We also collected from another coastal watershed to complete the length distribution. Spring adults had a high gonadosomatic index compared with autumn (fall) adults, which had atresia. No eggs or age-0 fish were captured in the lake during summer. The four length cohorts matched growth and back-calculated length at age. Otoliths were linearly related to fish length and were used for ageing and growth calculations. Although we found no direct evidence of spawning, data compilation suggests that Atlantic needlefish could be using this lake for reproduction.


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