Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 381–393 | Cite as

The biology of the spiny icefish Chaenodraco wilsoni Regan, 1914

  • Karl-Hermann Kock
  • Leonid Pshenichnov
  • Christopher D. Jones
  • Joachim Gröger
  • Rüdiger Riehl
Original Paper


The most abundant ice fish species observed in catches off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the last 25–30 years has been the spiny ice fish Chaenodraco wilsoni Regan 1914. C. wilsoni has been exploited on a commercial scale from the late 1970s to the end of the 1980s off Joinville–D’Urville Islands (CCAMLR Statistical Subarea 48.1) and in the Cosmonauts and Cooperation Seas and Prydz Bay in the Indian Ocean sector (CCAMLR Statistical Division 58.4.2). This paper presents new information on biological features and life history characteristics of C. wilsoni, based on research survey collections along the northern Antarctic Peninsula in 2006 and 2007 and samples taken in the commercial fishery in 1987. Length frequency compositions from the research surveys demonstrated that fish 21–34 cm long predominated in the catches. Sexual maturity is attained at 24–25 cm. Absolute fecundity and relative fecundity is low (1,000–2,500 eggs; 6–12 eggs). Oocyte diameter varied from 4.0 to 4.9 mm very close to spawning. Spawning at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula is likely to occur in October–November. Remotely operated vehicle deployments in the northern Weddell Sea demonstrated that C. wilsoni exhibit parental nest guarding where males protect the eggs. The incubation period is likely to be 8 months long. Fish feed primarily on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) in the Antarctic Peninsula region and in the Cosmonauts and Cooperation Seas while fish take ice krill (Euphausia crystallorophias), Pleuragramma antarcticum and myctophids to some extent in other areas. Age determination still awaits validation. Preliminary ageing attempts suggested a maximum age of about 8–10 years.


Southern Ocean Ice fish Krill 



The authors are very grateful to Dipl. Biol. S. Wilhelms for her never ending support abord RV ‘Yuzhmorgeologiya’, S. Schöling and Jörg Appel Institut für Seefischerei for their support when preparing the graphs, and Dr. Julian Gutt for providing Fig. 6a, b. We gratefully acknowledge the help of the masters and the crews of RV ‘Yuzhmorgeologiya’ and RV ‘Polarstern’ when collecting the samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl-Hermann Kock
    • 1
  • Leonid Pshenichnov
    • 2
  • Christopher D. Jones
    • 3
  • Joachim Gröger
    • 1
  • Rüdiger Riehl
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut für SeefischereiBundesforschungsanstalt für FischereiHamburgGermany
  2. 2.YugNIRO, Laboratory of Southern Ocean BioresourcesKerchUkraine
  3. 3.Southwest Fisheries Science Centre, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAALa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Institut für Zoologie, Morphologie und ZellbiologieHeinrich Heine UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany

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