Movements and spawning of white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus) and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • Prince E
  • Cowen R
  • Orbesen E
 et al. 
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Abstract—With a focus on white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), a concurrent electronic tagging and larval sampling effort was conducted in the vicinity of Mona Passage (off southeast Hispaniola), Dominican Republic, during April and May 2003. Objectives were 1) to characterize the horizontal and vertical movement of adults captured from the area by using pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs); and 2) by means of larval sampling, to investigate whether fish were reproducing. Trolling from a sportfishing vessel yielded eight adult white marlin and one blue marlin (Makaira nigricans); PSAT tags were deployed on all but one of these individuals. The exception was a female white marlin that was unsuitable for tagging because of injury; the reproductive state of its ovaries was examined histologically. Seven of the PSATs reported data summaries for water depth, temperature, and light levels measured every minute for periods ranging from 28 to 40 days. Displacement of marlin from the location of release to the point of tag pop-up ranged from 3l.6 to 267.7 nautical miles (nmi) and a mean displacement was 3.4 nmi per day for white marlin. White and blue marlin mean daily displacements appeared constrained compared to the results of other marlin PSAT tagging studies. White marlin ovarian sections contained postovulatory follicles and final maturation-stage oocytes, which indicated recent and imminent spawning. Neuston tows (n=23) yielded 18 istiophorid larvae: eight were white marlin, four were blue marlin, and six could not be identified to species. We speculate that the constrained movement patterns of adults may be linked to reproductive activity for both marlin species, and, if true, these movement patterns may have several implications for management. Protection of the potentially important white marlin spawning ground near Mona Passage seems warranted, at least until further studies can be conducted on the temporal and spatial extent of reproduction and associated adult movement.

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  • Eric D. Prince

  • Robert K. Cowen

  • Eric S. Orbesen

  • Stacy A. Luthy

  • Joel K. Llopiz

  • David E. Richardson

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