Oceanic migration behaviour of tropical Pacific eels from Vanuatu

R Schabetsberger, F Økland, K Aarestrup, D Kalfatak, U Sichrowsky, M Tambets, G Dall’Olmo, R Kaiser, Philip Miller

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Abstract

Information on oceanic migrations and spawning areas of tropical Pacific freshwater eels (genus Anguilla) is very limited. Lake Letas and its single outflowing river, Mbe Solomul on Gaua Island, Vanuatu, were surveyed for large migrating individuals. Twenty-four Anguilla marmorata (87 to 142 cm), 39 A. megastoma (50 to 131 cm), and 3 A. obscura (119 to 126 cm) were caught. Seven individuals were tagged with pop-up satellite transmitters and released offshore. One A. marmorata migrated 843 km towards the South Equatorial Current. The tag surfaced only 330 km from the point where the smallest leptocephalus has been captured so far. Tags on A. megastoma and A. obscura popped up within the archipelago. All 3 species exhibited pronounced diel vertical migrations. Eels descended from around 200 m nighttime depth, to 320 (A. obscura), 650 (A. marmorata), and 750 m (A. megastoma) during the day. A clear impact of the lunar cycle on the upper limit of migration depths was found in A. marmorata (full moon: 230 m, new moon: 170 m). These behaviours may be explained as a trade-off between predator avoidance and the necessity to maintain a sufficiently high metabolism for migration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Volume475
Pages (from-to)177-190
ISSN0171-8630
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Cite this

Schabetsberger, R., Økland, F., Aarestrup, K., Kalfatak, D., Sichrowsky, U., Tambets, M., ... Miller, P. (2013). Oceanic migration behaviour of tropical Pacific eels from Vanuatu. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 475, 177-190. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10254