Biological characteristics of the primitive flatfish Indian halibut (Psettodes erumei) from the tropical northeastern Indian Ocean, including implications of the use of incorrect aging methods on mortality estimates


Peter G. Coulson and Jake A. Poad
Cover date: 
Published online 30 August 2021

The Indian halibut (Psettodes erumei) is an important flatfish species in tropical and subtropical waters of the northern Indian Ocean. However, inappropriate aging methods used in previous studies of Indian halibut limited the use of age and growth data from those studies. This study highlights the importance of correct aging methods and identification of sexually dimorphic growth, particularly if growth characteristics are used to estimate mortality rates. Counts of opaque zones in whole otoliths of Indian halibut were almost always fewer than those in their corresponding sections, particularly for older individuals. Multiple validation methods demonstrate opaque zones form annually in otoliths of Indian halibut. Although the frequency of females increased with size, due to sexually dimorphic growth, males attained a greater maximum age (16 versus 11 years). Because of the greater ages and rapid early growth of Indian halibut described in this study, natural mortality estimates calculated by using Pauly’s equation, particularly for males, were higher than estimates derived from the same equation in previous studies, which employed growth parameter estimates based on ages derived from whole otoliths, vertebrae, or monthly length–frequency trends and, typically, did not account for sexually dimorphic growth. In northwestern Australia, spawning in Indian halibut commences when water temperature and day length begin to increase and occurs between early spring and late summer.