HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Richard Spieler

Second Advisor

Robin Sherman

Third Advisor

Andrew Rogerson

Fourth Advisor

Jay Burnett


The ocean surgeon, Acanthurus bahianus, is a coral reef fish inhabiting the tropical and subtropical waters of the western Atlantic, including southeastern Florida. This study was a 23-month analysis of the reproductive cycle correlated with the annual build up and depletion of fat reserves in the fish. In addition, an age and growth analysis of this species was conducted. A total of 507 fish were analyzed for length, weight, gonad weight and fat body weight. 478 were aged by microscopic examination of the transverse section of the sagittae otolith. The von Bertalannfy growth equation was used to determine length at age. The calculated maximum age for A. bahianus at this site was 17.86 (the oldest fish collected was an 18 year old male). The male and female gonadosomatic index increased from October to reach their highest levels in February and regressed to the lowest levels in June. The fat bodies held an inverse relationship with the gonadal growth. The fat body somatic index was the highest in August and September preceeding the gonadal recrudescence and reached the lowest levels in March. There was a correlation between fat bodies and mean sea surface temperatures at the study site but it is not clear if this is a casual relationship. This study is the first to report an in depth analysis of the fat and reproductive tissue cycles of A. bahianus and adds to knowledge of age and growth of this species.

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