Vertical movement patterns of skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, as revealed with archival tags


Schaefer, Kurt M., and Daniel W. Fuller
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Thirty-three skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) (53−73 cm fork length) were caught and released with implanted archival tags in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during April 2004. Six skipjack tuna were recaptured, and 9.3 to 10.1 days of depth and temperature data were down-loaded from five recovered tags. The vertical habitat-use distributions indicated that skipjack tuna not associated with floating objects spent 98.6% of their time above the thermocline (depth=44 m) during the night, but spent 37.7% of their time below the thermocline during the day. When not associated with floating objects, skipjack tuna displayed repetitive bounce-diving behavior to depths between 50 and 300 m during the day. The deepest dive recorded was 596 m, where the ambient temperature was 7.7°C. One dive was particularly remarkable because the fish continuously swam for 2 hours below the thermocline to a maximum depth of 330 m. During that dive, the ambient temperature reached a low of 10.5°C, and the peritoneal cavity temperature reached a low of 15.9°C. The vertical movements and habitat use of skipjack tuna, revealed in this study, provide a much greater understanding of their ecological niche and catchability by purse-seine fisheries.