Toward identification of larval sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) in the western North Atlantic Ocean*

Luthy, Stacy A. and Cowen, Robert K. and Serafy, Joseph E. and McDowell, Jan R. (2005) Toward identification of larval sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) in the western North Atlantic Ocean*. Fishery Bulletin, 103(4), pp. 588-600.

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Abstract

The identification of larval istiophorid billfishes from the western North Atlantic Ocean has long been problematic. In the present study, a molecular technique was used to positively identify 27 larval white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), 96 larval blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), and 591 larval sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) from the Straits of Florida and the Bahamas. Nine morphometric measurements were taken for a subset of larvae (species known), and lower jaw pigment patterns were recorded on a grid. Canonical variates analysis (CVA) was used to reveal the extent to which the combination of morphometric, pigment pattern, and month of capture information was diagnostic to species level. Linear regression revealed species-specific relationships between the ratio of snout length to eye orbit diameter and standard length (SL). Confidence limits about these relationships served as defining characters for sailfish >10 mm SL and for blue and white marlin >17 mm SL. Pigment pattern analysis indicated that 40% of the preflexion blue marlin examined possessed a characteristic lower jaw pigment pattern and that 62% of sailfish larvae were identifiable by lower jaw pigments alone. An identification key was constructed based on pigment patterns, month of capture, and relationships between SL and the ratio of snout length to eye orbit diameter. The key yielded identifications for 69.4% of 304 (blind sample) larvae used to test it; only one of these identifications was incorrect. Of the 93 larvae that could not be identified by the key, 71 (76.3%) were correctly identified with CVA. Although identif ication of certain larval specimens may always require molecular techniques, it is encouraging that the majority (92.4%) of istiophorid larvae examined were ultimately identifiable from external characteristics alone.

Item Type: Article
Title: Toward identification of larval sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), white marlin (Tetrapturus albidus), and blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) in the western North Atlantic Ocean*
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Luthy, Stacy A.
Cowen, Robert K.
Serafy, Joseph E.
McDowell, Jan R.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Fishery Bulletin
Volume: 103
Number: 4
Page Range: pp. 588-600
Date: 2005
ISSN: 0090-0656
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Ecology
Fisheries
Item ID: 9017
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2012 15:14
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2012 15:14
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/9017

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