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Comparisons between the biology of two species of whiting (Sillaginidae) in Shark Bay, Western Australia

Coulson, Peter Graham (2003) Comparisons between the biology of two species of whiting (Sillaginidae) in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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    Abstract

    Golden-lined whiting Sillago analis and yellow-fin whiting Sillago schomburgkii were collected from waters within Shark Bay, which is located at ca 26ºS on the west coast of Australia. The number of circuli on the scales of S. analis was often less than the number of opaque zones in sectioned otoliths of the same fish. Furthermore, the number of annuli visible in whole otoliths of S. analis was often less than were detectable in those otoliths after sectioning. The magnitude of the discrepancies increased as the number of opaque zones increased. Consequently, the otoliths of S. analis were sectioned in order to obtain reliable estimates of age. The mean monthly marginal increments on sectioned otoliths of S. analis and S. schomburgkii underwent a pronounced decline in late spring/early summer and then rose progressively during summer and autumn. Since these trends demonstrated that opaque zones are laid down annually in the otoliths of S. analis and S. schomburgkii from Shark Bay, their numbers could be used to help age this species in this marine embayment.

    The von Bertalanffy growth parameters, L_, k and to derived from the total lengths at age for individuals of S. analis, were 277 mm, 0.73 year-1 and 0.02 years, respectively, for females and 253 mm, 0.76 year-1 and 0.10 years, respectively. Females were estimated to attain lengths of 141, 211, 245 and 269 mm after 1, 2, 3 and 5 years, compared with 124, 192, 224 and 247 mm for males at the corresponding ages. The maximum ages recorded for females and males were 6 and 8 years, respectively, and the maximum lengths for females and males were 320 and 283 mm, respectively. The von Bertalanffy growth parameters derived from the total lengths at age of individuals of S. schomburgkii were 346 mm, 0.47 year-1 and -0.09 years, respectively, for females and 294 mm, 0.59 year-1 and -0.06 years, respectively, for males. Females initially grew at a similar rate as males, attaining total lengths of 139, 216, 265 and 296 mm after 1, 2, 3 and 4 years, compared with 136, 206, 245 and 266 mm for males at the corresponding ages. The maximum ages recorded for females and males were 10 and 9 years, respectively, and the maximum lengths for females and males were 383 and 299 mm respectively. The likelihood ratio test demonstrated that the growth curves of the females and males of both S. analis and S. schomburgkii in Shark Bay were significantly different (P < 0.001). Since, throughout the full range of ages, the differences between the estimated lengths at age for S. schomburgkii in the subtropical environment of Shark Bay and those recorded previously for this species over 800 km further south in temperate waters never exceeded 5%, any differences in the estimated lengths at age are too small to be of any biological significance.

    Monthly trends exhibited by the gonadosomatic indices and prevalence of the different gonad maturity stages demonstrate that S. analis and S. schomburgkii both have protracted spawning periods from October to April and from August to March, respectively. Hyndes and Potter (1997) found females and males of S. schomburgkii with mature and spent ovaries at stages V-VII in six months, i.e. October to March, in temperate waters over 800 km further south on the lower west coast of Australia. Higher average water temperatures are thus accompanied by a longer spawning period.

    Since the distributions of the oocyte diameters in the ovaries of mature females of both S. analis and S. schomburgkii in Shark Bay are essentially continuous, and as mature ovaries contain oocytes at different stages in development, including “intermediate” stages such as the cortical alveolar stage, these species have indeterminate fecundity. Thus, implicitly, S. analis and S. schomburgkii are also multiple spawners.

    The females and males of S. analis typically attain maturity (L50) at 216 and 184 mm, respectively, and maturity is typically reached by the end of their fourth years of life. The L50s for female and male S. schomburgkii were 237 and 192 mm, respectively, and maturity is typically attained by the end of their fourth and third years of life, respectively. The above L50s for the females and males of S. schomburgkii in Shark Bay are very similar to those estimated by Hyndes and Potter (1997) for this species in temperate waters on the lower west coast of Australia. There are indications that the length at maturity for S. analis and S. schomburgkii in Shark Bay may have decreased during the last 30 years, which may represent a response of these two Sillago species to fishing pressure. Preliminary mortality estimates suggest that, in Shark Bay, S. analis is more heavily fished than S. schomburgkii.

    Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
    Supervisor: Potter, Ian
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/4335
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