Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Reports

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During cruise "La Bocaina 0497" a series of 14 tows with a commercial pelagic trawl at depths between 20 and 700 m and an acoustic survey with a SIMRAD EK-500 echosounder were carried out in neritic and adjacent oceanic waters off Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria, Canary islands. In addition, SST images were obtained to get some informations on the prevailing hydrological conditions in the study area.

Of the 14 trawl tows ten were successful and resulted in capture of a total of 2166 fishes belonging to 81 species, 53 genera and 28 families. Ten species proved to be new records for the area of the Canary Islands. The acoustic survey covered a total of 2404 nm2 and allowed to obtain estimates of the abundance and biomass of fishes.

Both the fishing results and the acoustic study revealed considerable spatial variability in biomass of chub mackerel, Scomber japonicus, an epipelagic species of particular fisheries interest, showing clear variations in the numerical dominance of certain age- or size classes among different collecting localities. Furthermore, some juveniles in the first year of life occurred in the oceanic epipelagic during night together with vertically migrating mesopelagic fishes. Preliminary analyses of the stomach and intestinal content suggest that these juveniles fed close to the bottom during the day before and hence may undertake diurnal horizontal migrations between the shelf and adjacent oceanic waters. It is concluded that the great spatial flexibility of this species requires further monitoring surveys at regular intervals as a basis for establishing a sustainable fisheries management.

The acoustic data together with the trawling results demonstrate the existence of a dense deep scattering layer at depths between 400 and 700 m which is composed of mesopelagic fishes and invertebrates. Clear indications of diurnal vertical migrations were found in several species with formation of a shallow scattering layer in less than 150 m depth during night. Together with typical mesopelagic species such as stomiids and myctophids also juveniles of three benthopelagic species, which typically undergo a pelagic stage during early life, were collected.

Several individuals of mesopelagic species were collected above the shelf what may reflect the ecological boundary situation at ocean rims typical for oceanic islands and seamounts. Some mesopelagic species collected in this study may be closely associated with distinct hydrological conditions such as the myctophid Ceratoscopelus maderensis which was discovered in the SE of Fuerteventura in an area of possible local upwelling. This finding points to the existence of micro-zoogeographic zones within the Canary islands which derserve further investigation using a small-scaled comparative approach.

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Informes Tecnicos del Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas

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Published by the Canary Islands government (Spain).