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Ichthyoplankton adjacent to live-bottom habitats in Onslow Bay, North Carolina


, : Ichthyoplankton adjacent to live-bottom habitats in Onslow Bay, North Carolina. NOAA Technical Report NMFS 0(133): 1-32, Jan

The abundance and distribution of ichthyoplankton adjacent to live-bottom habitats (rock outcroppings containing rich, sessile invertebrate communities and many species of tropical and subtropical fishes) in open-shelf waters (< 55-m isobath) in Onslow Bay, North Carolina, were investigated. Larvae of reef-associated genera, especially the economically important subtropical and tropical members of the families Haemulidae (Haemulon), Lutjanidae (Lutjanus and Rhomboplites), Serranidae (Mycteroperca and Epinephelus), and Sparidae (Calamus and Pagrus) were targeted. Larvae representing 40 families were collected in neuston tows. Commonly collected reef-associated families were Balistidae, Blenniidae (dominated by the reef-associated Parablennius marmoreus), Mullidae, and Gobiidae. Larvae representing 70 families were collected in subsurface tows. Reef-associated families commonly collected included Apogonidae, Balistidae, Gobiidae, Haemulidae, Lutjanidae, Scaridae, and Serranidae. Larval Haemulon sp (p)., Lutjanus sp (p)., and Rhomboplites aurorubens were commonly collected and thus it is likely that these taxa spawn in Onslow Bay and recruit to live-bottom sites within the area. Other families of fishes commonly collected but generally not considered reef-associated included Bothidae, Callionymidae, Carangidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae, and Ophidiidae. Estuarine-dependent species (e.g. the clupeid Brevoortia tyrannus and the sciaenids Leiostomus xanthurus and Micropogonias undulatus) were an important component of the ichthyoplankton during late fall and winter. The frequent occurrence of larvae from oceanic species (e.g. gonostomatids and myctophids) indicated that Gulf Stream waters had intruded onto the shelf, transporting these larvae to open-shelf waters off North Carolina.

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