Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 255–277 | Cite as

A general theory on fish aggregation to floating objects: An alternative to the meeting point hypothesis

  • José J. Castro
  • José A. Santiago
  • Ana T. Santana-Ortega
Article

Abstract

An immense variety of fish may, on occasions, aggregate around or beassociated with floating structures such as drifting algae, jelliedzooplankton, whales, floats or anchored fish aggregating devices (ineffect, there are over 333 fish species belonging to 96 familiesrecorded in the literature).

Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain this behaviour ofpelagic fish, although the most widely accepted theory is that fish usefloating materials, to some extent, to protect themselves frompredators. However, we think that aggregation under floats may be theresult of behaviour that has evolved to safeguard the survival of eggs,larvae and juvenile stages, during dispersion to other areas. Naturalfloating structures (e.g., algae, branches of trees) drift in seacurrents that originate in places where the floating objects arefrequently found (e.g., river estuaries, coastal areas). These same seacurrents also introduce some of the planktonic production generated inthese areas into the oligotrophic pelagic environment. Fish associatedwith drifting floating structures probably feed on invertebratesassociated with the structures. However, they may also benefit from theaccumulated plankton in the converging waters. Adult fish of somemigratory species (tuna, dolphinfish, etc.) have also developed similarassociative behaviour around drifting objects for other reasons (e.g.,resting places, presence of bait fish, geographical references andschool recomposition). In this context, the meeting point hypothesis isonly applicable to one specific case, the tuna and tuna-like species.

Aggregative and associative behaviour, under and around floatingdevices, may be the result of convergent behaviors that result fromdifferent motivations. However, generally this behaviour can beexplained by the fact that drifting floating objects represent a meansof reaching relatively rich areas, where larvae and juvenile fish havean increased chance of survival.

Fish Aggregating Devices FAD floating structures drifting flotsam indicator log meeting point 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • José J. Castro
    • 1
  • José A. Santiago
    • 1
  • Ana T. Santana-Ortega
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de BiologíaUniv. de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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