Early-life-history profiles, seasonal abundance, and distribution of four species of clupeid larvae from the northern Gulf of Mexico, 1982 and 1983.
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We present data on icthyoplankton distribution, abundance, and seasonality and supporting environmental information for four species of coastal pelagics from thr family Clupeidae: round herring Etrumeus teres, scaled sardine Harengula jaguana, Atlantic thread herring Opisthonema oglinum, and Spanish sardine Sardinella aurita. Data are form 1982 and 1983 cruises across the Norhtern Gulf of mexico sponsored by the Southeastern Area Monitoring And Assessment Program (SEAMAP). This is the first such examination for these speicies on a multi-year and Gulf-wide scale. Bioprofiles on reproductive biology, early life history, meristics, adult distribution, and fisheries characteristics are also presented for these species. During the summer, larval Atlantic thread herring and scaled and Spanish sardines were abundant on the inner shelf (less than 40m depth), but were rare or absent in deeper waters. Scaled sardine and thread herring were found virtually everywhere inner-shelf waters were sampled, but Spanish sardines were rare in the north-central Gulf. During 1982, larval Atlantic thread herring were the most abundant of the four target clupeid species, whereas Spanish sardines were most abundant during 1983. On the west Florida shelf, Spanish sardines dominated larval clupeid populstions both years. Scaled sardine larvae were theleast abundant of the four species both years, but were still captured in of inner-shelf bongo net collections. Round herring larvae, collected February-early June (primarily March-April) were abundant on the outer shelf (40-182 m depth) and especially off Louisiana. Over the 2-year period, outer-shelf mean abundance for round herring was 40.2 larvae/10 meters squared; inner-shelf mean abundance for scaled sardine, Atlantic thread herring, and Spanish sardine were 14.9, 39.2, and 41.9 larvae/ meters squared, respectively.