Use of gill nets and telemetry in tracking movements and feeding of striped bass (Morone saxatilis), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), and weakfish (Cynoscion regalis) at a salinity front in a small estuary


Linda L. Stehlik, John P. Manderson, and Jeffrey Pessutti
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The hypothesis that striped bass (Morone saxatilis), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), and species of forage fish would be associated closely with a salinity transition front was tested through sampling and tagging efforts. In a small New Jersey estuary, a station at a salinity front and another in a nearby channel were sampled weekly with gill nets. Abundance of bluefish was significantly greater at the front, and abundance of weakfish was significantly greater at the channel. Forage fish were collected at both stations, and the diets of bluefish and weakfish overlapped in all seasons. Ultrasonically tagged striped bass, weakfish, and bluefish were tracked concurrently, and their home ranges, or the 95% probability of their occurrences were computed. Home ranges of tagged striped bass occurred upriver and also near river kilometer 1. Home ranges of weakfish were located in the midriver channels, and those of bluefish were located midriver and upriver at river kilometers 5–12. Home ranges for these 3 species were not limited to the area of the salinity front, contrary to the initial hypothesis.