Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 12, pp 2625–2642 | Cite as

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

  • Kurt M. SchaeferEmail author
  • Daniel W. Fuller
Original Paper


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.


Length Class Bigeye Tuna Eastern Pacific Ocean Floating Object Associative Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was made possible through financial contributions by the Japan Fisheries Agency and the Taiwan Fisheries Agency. We are grateful for invaluable insights on the dynamics of FAD fishing in the EPO provided by Captains A. Parker and D. Stephenson. We are thankful to captain B. Blocker and his crew aboard the MV Her Grace for their relentless efforts in fishing and tagging operations. We are indebted to vessel owners, captains, fishermen, stevedores, and industry representatives for returning recovered tags. Thanks also to IATTC field office personnel for their efforts in recovering tags and recapture information. We thank Nick Vogel for his assistance with the development of computer programs for the processing of archival tag data for classifying daily behaviors. We also thank Tim Lam for his assistance in deriving a most probable movement path for the 4.1 year bigeye data set. We are grateful to B. Bayliff, R. Deriso, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inter-American Tropical Tuna CommissionLa JollaUSA

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