Allopatric distribution of juvenile red-legged banana prawns (Penaeus indicus H. Milne Edwards, 1837) and juvenile white banana prawns (Penaeus merguiensis De Man, 1888), and inferred extensive migration, in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, northwest Australia
Kenyon, R.A., Loneragan, N.R., Manson, F.J., Vance, D.J. and Venables, W.N. (2004) Allopatric distribution of juvenile red-legged banana prawns (Penaeus indicus H. Milne Edwards, 1837) and juvenile white banana prawns (Penaeus merguiensis De Man, 1888), and inferred extensive migration, in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, northwest Australia. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 309 (1). pp. 79-108.
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During October to December 1997, we trawled estuarine habitats in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf (JBG) to determine the distribution of juvenile red-legged banana prawns, Penaeus indicus (H. Milne Edwards, 1837) and white banana prawns, Penaeus merguiensis (de Man, 1888). We made 229 beam-trawls at 185 sites, mostly over a 100-m path (3-min duration). A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver was used to verify our location. During October to December 1998, we intensively resampled three of the rivers that were sampled in 1997 to confirm the gulf-wide distribution of P. indicus and P. merguiensis and to investigate the microhabitat use of P. indicus. We chose previously sampled and new sites in Forsyth Creek (eastern JBG), the Lyne River (Cambridge Gulf), and the Berkeley River (western JBG). We made 249 trawls at 21 sites, mostly over 100 m. Juvenile banana prawns were abundant in eastern JBG, Cambridge Gulf and western JBG. They were not abundant in southern JBG, although fewer trawls were made there, due to its inaccessibility. In eastern JBG and Cambridge Gulf, over 96% and 73% (respectively) of juvenile banana prawns were P. indicus and they were more abundant there than in the western JBG. Conversely, in the western JBG over 93% of the juvenile banana prawns were P. merguiensis and they were more abundant than in the eastern JBG and Cambridge Gulf. The Lyne River in the northwestern Cambridge Gulf seems to be the transition zone; both P. indicus and P. merguiensis are equally abundant. P. indicus are most abundant on the mangrove-lined muddy banks of waterways within mangrove forests, similar habitats to P. merguiensis. Within these habitats, they were most abundant in gutters and small creeks, rather than rivers and large creeks. Few P. indicus or P. merguiensis were caught in 100 m 2 trawls undertaken midriver (on the channel bottom and on emergent banks), although these habitats may be only 100 m from the mangrove-lined habitats. In all creek and river habitats, both species are most catchable at low tide (irrespective of daylight or darkness) when they move out of the mangrove forests and accumulate in the remnant water bodies. The offshore fishery for P. indicus is in northwestern JBG in waters 50-80 m deep, about 300 and 200 km, respectively, from where juveniles are abundant in their extensive inshore habitats in east JBG and in Cambridge Gulf, demonstrating a geographical separation of the juvenile and adult phases. Postlarval P. indicus, spawned offshore, must use tides and currents to travel south and east to reach nursery habitats. Emigrant subadults must migrate north and west, across relatively shallow inshore sand substrates (30-40 m deep) to reach their offshore habitats.
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