, Volume 157, Issue 12, pp 2625-2642

Vertical movements, behavior, and habitat of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean, ascertained from archival tag data

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Abstract

The results presented in this report are based on analyses of 16,721 days of data downloaded from 96 archival tags recovered from bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus; 54–159 cm in length, 0.97–5.44 years of age) at liberty from 31 to 1,508 days in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean. Analyses of daily timed depth and temperature records resulted in the classification of the data into three daily behavior types: characteristic, associative (associated with floating objects), and other. There is a significant positive correlation between the proportion of time fish exhibit characteristic behavior and increasing length, and significant negative correlations between the proportion of time bigeye exhibit associative and other behavior with increasing length. For the smallest (54–80 cm) to largest (100–159 cm) length classes, the vertical habitats utilized when exhibiting non-associative behaviors were 99 and 98% of the time above the thermocline depth (60 m) during the night, at the same average depth of 34 m, and 60 and 72% of the time below the thermocline during the day at average depths of 163 and 183 m, respectively. For the same smallest to largest length classes, when exhibiting associative behavior, the average nighttime and daytime depths were 25 and 21, and 33 and 37 m, respectively. The apparent effects of the environment on the behavior of the fish are discussed.

Communicated by S. Garthe.