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

Evaluation of growth-dependent survival during early stages of Pacific bluefin tuna using otolith microstructure analysis

Mikio Watai A , Taiki Ishihara A , Osamu Abe A B , Seiji Ohshimo A D and Carlos Augusto Strussmann C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Fisheries Research Agency, 5-7-1 Orido, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka 424-8633, Japan.

B Marine Fishery Resources Development and Management Department, Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, Taman Perikanan Chendering, 21080 Kuala Terenhhanu, Malaysia.

C Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, 4-5-7 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8477, Japan.

D Corresponding author. Email: oshimo@affrc.go.jp

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16337
Submitted: 28 September 2016  Accepted: 4 February 2017   Published online: 13 April 2017

Abstract

The present study used otolith analysis-based body size back-calculation to: (1) evaluate the hypothesis of growth-dependent survival in young Pacific bluefin tuna (PBF; Thunnus orientalis) from the north-western Pacific Ocean; (2) identify critical developmental stages for survival; and (3) compare interannual differences in early growth. To this end, we compared the daily growth trajectories of a large number of larvae (standard length (SL) <15 mm), juveniles (15 ≤ SL ≤ 150 mm), and young-of-year (YOY; SL >150 mm) collected between 2011 and 2015. Otolith radius and SL were highly correlated and yielded a single relationship applicable for the five year-classes. Body size back-calculation showed that only larvae with fast, steady growth successfully transitioned to the juvenile stage. The ontogenetic analysis of daily growth rates revealed interannual differences only in larvae, and not in the larval stage of juveniles and YOY. Neither sudden decreases nor increases in growth rates were observed during the larval stage of any of the stages, suggesting that the observed variability in larval body size may be the result of individual differences in growth rates rather than of drastic, one-time events. Overall, the results of the present study indicate that growth-dependent survival of larvae may be the most critical for PBF recruitment.

Additional keywords: Thunnus orientalis.


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