Vertical movements of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) associated with islands, buoys, and seamounts near the main Hawaiian Islands from archival tagging data

Authors

  • Michael K. Musyl,

    Corresponding author
    1. Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Kewalo Research Facility, 1125-B Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814–2396, USA
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  • Richard W. Brill,

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, South-west Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822–2396, USA
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  • Christofer H. Boggs,

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, South-west Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822–2396, USA
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  • Daniel S. Curran,

    1. Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Pelagic Fisheries Research Program, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Kewalo Research Facility, 1125-B Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814–2396, USA
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  • Thomas K. Kazama,

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, South-west Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822–2396, USA
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  • Michael P. Seki

    1. Honolulu Laboratory, South-west Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA, 2570 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822–2396, USA
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  • Present address: Richard W. Brill, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, PO Box 1346, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA.

*E-mail: mmusyl@honlab.nmfs.hawaii.edu

Abstract

To learn more about the movement patterns of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), we deployed archival tags on 87 fish ranging in fork length from 50 to 154 cm. Thirteen fish were recaptured, from which 11 archival tags were returned, representing in aggregate 943 days-at-liberty. We successfully retrieved data from 10 tags, representing 474 days in aggregate. The largest fish recaptured was 44.5 kg [131 cm fork length (FL)] and the smallest 2.8 kg (52 cm). The deepest descent recorded was 817 m, the coldest temperature visited 4.7°C, and minimum oxygen level reached ∼1 mL L−1. Fish spent little time at depths where water temperatures were below 7°C and oxygen levels less than ∼2 mL L−1. Five fish were recaptured near the offshore weather buoy where they were tagged. Based on vertical movement patterns, it appeared that all stayed immediately associated with the buoy for up to 34 days. During this time they remained primarily in the uniform temperature surface layer (i.e. above 100 m). In contrast, fish not associated with a floating object showed the W-shaped vertical movement patterns during the day characteristic of bigeye tuna (i.e. descending to ∼300–500 m and then returning regularly to the surface layer). Four fish were tagged and subsequently recaptured near Cross Seamount up to 76 days later. These fish exhibited vertical movement patterns similar to, but less regular than, those of fish not associated with any structure. Bigeye tuna appear to follow the diel vertical movements of the deep sound scattering layer (SSL) organisms and thus to exploit them effectively as a prey resource. Average night-time depth was correlated with lunar illumination, a behaviour which mimics movements of the SSL.

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