High abundance of larval rockfish over Cobb Seamount, an isolated seamount in the Northeast Pacific


JOHN F. DOWER e-mail: dower@eos.ubc.ca


The larval fish community in the region of Cobb Seamount (500 km west of Oregon) is dominated by myctophid species commonly encountered in the subarctic North Pacific. However, during a survey in June 1992, the ichthyoplankton community within 30 km of the seamount summit was almost completely dominated by larvae of various rockfish (Sebastes) species. Given their very small size (and hence very young age) and the fact that they occurred only rarely in samples collected > 30 km from the seamount summit, we conclude that these Sebastes larvae were produced locally over Cobb Seamount. Previous studies have shown that the Cobb fish fauna is dominated by various Sebastes spp. and that, unlike other fish present on the seamount, the rockfish populations may be self-recruiting. We suggest that a persistent clockwise (i.e. downwelling) eddy, consistent with a stratified Taylor cone, plays a critical role in retaining larval rockfish over Cobb Seamount and may contribute to the process of self-recruitment. The key to the success of rockfish on Cobb and other shallow Northeast Pacific seamounts seems to be linked to their viviparous life history.