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

Age, stucture, growth rates and movements of sea mullet, Mugil cephalus L., and Yellow-eye Mullet, Aldrichetta forsteri (Valenciennes), in the Swan-Avon river system, Western Australia

CF Chubb, IC Potter, CJ Grant, RCJ Lenanton and J Wallace

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 32(4) 605 - 628
Published: 1981


The age structure, growth rates and movements of M. cephalus and A forsteri in the Swan-Avon river system have been investigated using data obtained from beach seining and gill netting carried out between February 1977 and June 1980. Length-frequency data and scale readings show that the populations of both species consist predominantly of 0+ and 1 + fish.

From the times when the smallest fry (20-30 mm) were present in the lower part of the river system, and from the condition of the gonads of older fish, the breeding seasons of the sea and yellow-eye mullets have been estimated as extending from March to September and from March to August respectively. The bimodality or polymodality exhibited by the length-frequency distributions for the 0 + year classes suggest that in both species groups of individuals spawn at slightly different times. The range of mean total lengths and weights of animals caught in May near the end of the first year of life was 178-222 mm and 64-119 gin M. cephalus and 136-154 mm and 19-30 g in A. forsteri, which shows that the growth of each of these two species of mullet is relatively very rapid in the Swan-Avon river system. 1 + and 2 + fish tend to leave the estuary for varying periods. Although 0+ fish of both species utilized the shallow banks of the estuary throughout the year. the sea mullet moved further upstream and were not as consistently abundant in the lower estuary. Since 0+ yellow-eye mullet 40-100 mm long were also abundant in marine coastal waters between January and May. and sea mullet of comparable age were rarely observed in these regions, it would appear that M. cephalus is the more estuarine-dependent of the two species. Commercial catches of M. cephalus were greater than those of A. forsteri. This feature can be related in part to the much faster growth rate of M. cephalus, which results in a larger proportion of its youngest year classes reaching the minimum legal size for capture prior to the time when they leave the estuary in large numbers.

© CSIRO 1981

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