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Keywords:

  • archival tags;
  • crepuscular;
  • eastern Bering Sea;
  • foraging;
  • Gulf of Alaska;
  • prey search

The diel vertical migration (DVM) of Pacific cod Gadus macrocephalus was examined using depth and temperature data from 250 recaptured archival tags deployed on G. macrocephalus in the eastern Bering Sea and in the Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island. DVM of two types, deeper during daytime (type I) and deeper during night-time (type II), occurred frequently (15–40% of all days) in G. macrocephalus released at all sites. Most individuals displayed both diel types, with each type of behaviour lasting up to 58 contiguous days, and day and night depth differences averaging c. 8 m. Despite high among-individual variability, the occurrence of DVM varied significantly with the release site, season (i.e. day-of-year) and bottom depth, with the trend in seasonal occurrence nearly opposite for type I compared to type II DVM. No significance could be attributed to G. macrocephalus fork length, sex or ambient (tag) temperature. Trends in the magnitude of G. macrocephalus depth change were observed, with increased movement often occurring during night-time, dawn and dusk, and at release sites where the bathymetry was more complex. Both type I and type II DVMs were attributed to foraging on prey species that also undergo DVM, and increased vertical movements of G. macrocephalus during crepuscular and night-time periods were attributed to more active foraging during dim-light conditions when G. macrocephalus can potentially exploit a sensory advantage over some of their prey.