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Protracted estuarine phase in the life cycle of the marine pufferfish Torquigener pleurogramma

Abstract

The present study was undertaken to elucidate the way in which the Swan Estuary in south-western Australia is used by the common blowfish Torquigener pleurogramma, a representative of the abundant and widely distributed family Tetraodontidae. T. pleurogramm were collected by beach seine and otter trawl from the Swan Estuary between February 1977 and December 1980 and between May 1984 and February 1986. While T. pleurogramma feeds on a wide variety of organisms in the estuary, the main components of its diet are polychaetes and amphipods for fish <130 mm and bivalve molluscs for larger fish. Numbers of blowfish were inversely correlated with water depth, with densities on the banks (water depth <1.5 m) sometimes reaching 5 fish m-2, and tended to be greater at night than during the day. The density of T. pleurogramma in the shallows was positively correlated with salinity and inversely correlated with distance from the estuary mouth. Numbers increased greatly in the latter half of 1980 and 1985 as a result of the recruitment of large numbers of the 0+ age class (i.e., fish in their first year of life). Blowfish were represented by seven age classes in the estuary and attained a maximum size of 230 mm (220 g). By the end of their first and second years of life, fish had reached approximately 90 mm (14 g) and 125 mm (39 g), respectively. Sexual maturity was generally not reached until the end of the second year of life. The presence of higher gonadosomatic indices and more mature gonads in fish collected just outside than within the estuary indicate that T. pleurogramma leaves the estuary before spawning. Comparisons between lengthfrequency data, allied with information on the prevalence and intensity of gill parasites, indicate that assemblages in estuarine and neighbouring inshore waters remain distinct for many months and that growth within the estuary is faster than in inshore marine environments.

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Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney

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Potter, I.C., Cheal, A.J. & Loneragan, N.R. Protracted estuarine phase in the life cycle of the marine pufferfish Torquigener pleurogramma . Marine Biology 98, 317–329 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00391107

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Keywords

  • Beach
  • Water Depth
  • Bivalve
  • Marine Environment
  • Maximum Size