Abundance and distribution of fishes in the Galveston Bay system, 1963-1964
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The fish fauna inhabiting the Galveston Bay estuarine system was studied from January 1963 through December 1964. Ninety-six species and 364,815 individuals were collected by trawl. Dominant in the system was Micropogonias undulatus (51.2% by number, 36.5% by wet weight). Other numerically important fishes were: Anchoa mitchilli, 22.3%; Stellifer lanceolatus, 8.0%; Leiostomus xanthurus, 4.1%; Cynoscion arenarius, 3.3%; and Arius felis, 2.4%. In terms of biomass, other important species were: L. xanthurus, 9.1%; Mugil cephalus, 7.6%; S. lanceolatus, 6.5%; A. felis, 5.7%;and C. arenarius, 5.0%. Fishes were most abundant in the upper estuary, while the number of species recorded was highest in the shallow Gulf of Mexico just offshore from the estuary. Stellifer lanceolatus was the most abundant fish in the channel zones of the estuary and co-dominated with C. arenarius in Gulf waters. Anchoa mitchilli was the dominant fish in the waters of the main tidal pass. In all other zones (open, near shore, and peripheral waters) and bay subareas, Micropogonias undulatus was numerically dominant.Mean number of fishes per tow was significantly higher in 1963 than in 1964, attributable mainly to larger catches of A. mitchilli and S. lanceolatus in several months of 1963. However, on an annual basis, mean fish biomass per tow was stable even though monthly differences were noted. No other system-wide studies of the fish fauna of Galveston Bay have been conducted. Results of the few limited investigations conducted before or after 1963-1964 conflict with the results of the latter. Resultant differences might equally be attributed to natural fish population fluctuations, differences in sampling methodology, and rapid human development and use of the estuary and surrounding lands.