Evidence of a spawning area of Anguillamarmorata in the western North Pacific
Leptocephali of the tropical eel Anguillamarmorata have been consistently collected in the same area of the North Equatorial Current (NEC) in the western North Pacific during three consecutive cruises in June and July of 1991 (N=28) and 1994 (N=20), and July and September of 1995 (N=27), indicating that this is a spawning area of this species. These leptocephali were collected from 130°E to 142°E and 12°N to 20°N, to the west of the Mariana Islands, in 20 tows in 1991, in 13 tows in 1994 and in 17 tows in 1995, indicating a widespread presence, but a relatively low abundance. Six of these specimens (16.3–36.0 mm total length) from the 1995 cruise, which were of the typical size range of these leptocephali, were genetically confirmed to be A. marmorata in a previous study. The consistent presence of recently spawned A. marmorata leptocephali (9–20 mm) in all 3 years, suggests that the western region of the NEC is the spawning area of the northern population of A. marmorata that was identified in a recent population genetics study. These leptocephali would thus be transported westward by the NEC and then transported north into the Kuroshio Current and toward Taiwan and Japan, or south toward the southern Philippines and into the Celebes Sea by the Mindanao Current. Available evidence indicates that A. marmorata may have potentially year-round spawning, and the presence of a spawning area of this species in the same region as that of Anguillajaponica suggests that the northern population of A. marmorata has evolved a spawning migration from East Asia, the Philippines and the Celebes Sea region to the NEC area, but differs from A. japonica by having some individuals that recruit to more southern areas.
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