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

Movement and juvenile recruitment of mangrove jack, Lutjanus argentimaculatus (Forsskål), in northern Australia

D. J. Russell A C and A. J. McDougall B

A Northern Fisheries Centre, PO Box 5396, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.

B Department of Natural Resources, PO Box 1143, Bundaberg, Qld 4670, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 56(4) 465-475
Submitted: 19 August 2004  Accepted: 6 April 2005   Published: 27 June 2005


Lutjanus argentimaculatus, tagged and released in coastal rivers and estuaries, were found to have made inter- and intra-riverine, coastal and offshore movements. A small proportion of the recaptures made offshore movements to reef habitats of up to 315 km and these recaptures were fish that were at liberty, on average, more than twice as long as those fish that had made intra-riverine movements. Most juvenile fish <400-mm length to caudal fork (LCF) resident in rivers were recaptured less than a kilometre from where they were released. The proportion of fish making sizeable movements increased with increasing recapture size, with about of 20% of larger fish (400–500-mm LCF) making offshore, inter-riverine or coastal movements. Larger fish were primarily caught offshore, whereas smaller fish <~338-mm LCF were exclusively caught in estuarine and freshwater habitats. Recruitment of juveniles into estuarine and lower freshwater riverine habitats occurred from about February. There was temporal variability of recruitment of mangrove jack into some river systems and their relative abundance within the river system was inversely proportional to the distance from the sea. Overfishing of juveniles when they are concentrated in inshore areas could have adverse implications for mangrove jack stocks.

Extra keywords: Great Barrier Reef, lutjanids, migration, snappers.


We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of many recreational and commercial fishers who provided information on tag returns. In particular, we wish to thank Mr Bill Sawynok of Infofish Services for providing up-to-date tag and recapture information from the SUNTAG database and for entering our information into that database. We also acknowledge the help given by Mr Graham Hopkirk of the fish processor ‘A Fine Kettle of Fish’ for allowing us to measure and sample commercial catches on his premises. Staff at the Northern Fisheries Centre, in particular Mr Adam Fletcher and Ms Sarah Kistle, provided invaluable technical assistance during the project and Mr Bob Mayer assisted with statistical analyses. We also wish to thank Dr Marcus Sheaves and two anonymous referees for providing constructive comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This project was partially funded by a grant from the Fisheries Research Development Corporation.


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