Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 96, Issue 5, pp 661–675 | Cite as

Do surf zones in New Jersey provide “nursery” habitat for southern fishes?

  • Kenneth W. Able
  • Mark J. Wuenschel
  • Thomas M. Grothues
  • James M. Vasslides
  • Peter M. Rowe


The fishes of the energetic surf zone of exposed ocean beaches are poorly known, especially along the U.S. east coast. We investigated the role that surf zones in southern New Jersey have as habitat by describing the young-of-the-year fishes caught by seines within the surf zone from May through October in 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2006. In addition, we investigated the nursery role of these surf zones by examining abundance, growth, and inferred survival during the summer for the dominant locally (New Jersey) and southern (south of Cape Hatteras) spawned species. At least three southern species, i.e. bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix (Cohort I), white mullet Mugil curema, and Florida pompano Trachinotus carolinus successfully use New Jersey surf zones as nurseries during the summer. It is clear that bluefish (Cohort I) contributes to the adult population and it is likely for the other southern species. Ultimately, the nursery contribution of surf zones and other habitats at the northern limits of the range of southern species depends on whether surviving juveniles can successfully emigrate to overwinter habitats and complete their life history.


Surf zone Young-of-the-year Nursery habitat New Jersey 



We thank the technicians of “The Blue Crew” - G. Bell, D. Bottinelli, B. Rokeach, R. Nichols, C. Jeitner, K. Della Torre, R. Rinaldi, M. Greaney, J. Conwell, J. Eppenstiener, J. Bunkiewicz, and J. Lamonaca for their work in the surf. Jackie Toth and Carol Van Pelt provided statistical analysis and editorial assistance, respectively. This study was funded through a Bluefish/Striped Bass Research Program (Rutgers University and National Marine Fisheries Service collaborative program). We are grateful to all of the above. This paper is Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences Contribution No. 2012-5.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth W. Able
    • 1
  • Mark J. Wuenschel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas M. Grothues
    • 1
  • James M. Vasslides
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter M. Rowe
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Field Station, Institute of Marine and Coastal SciencesRutgers UniversityTuckertonUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/NMFS/NEFSCWoods Hole LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.Barnegat Bay PartnershipToms RiverUSA
  4. 4.New Jersey Sea Grant ConsortiumFort HancockUSA

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