Fish Biology and Fisheries Ecology of the Salton Sea, California

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Marine Science


Studies of the fisheries ecology and fish biology of the Salton Sea, California, were conducted in 1999 and 2000 using 50 m gill nets in river, nearshore, pelagic, and estuarine areas. Total lengths and weights were measured for all fish captured, and sub-samples were dissected for gonad weights and aging. Ten fish species were captured of which a hybrid tilapia ( Oreochromis mossambicus x O. urolepis hornorum) was dominant by number and weight. Nearshore and estuarine areas had highest catch rates (over 11 kg h(-1) net(-1) for tilapia). Rivers were richest in the number of species (6 of 10 species were exclusively riverine), but lowest in fish abundance. Orangemouth corvina (Cynoscion xanthulus), bairdiella (Bairdiella icistia), sargo (Anisotremus davidsoni), and tilapia grew faster, but had shorter life spans than conspecifics elsewhere and Salton Sea conspecifics of 50 years ago. Reproduction occurred mostly in the nearshore and estuarine areas. Onset of reproduction of bairdiella and sargo was in the spring and extended through the beginning of summer. Reproduction of orangemouth corvina started in the summer and of tilapia in the spring. Reproduction of orangemouth corvina and tilapia extended through the fall. Gender ratios of tilapia were skewed toward males in all areas, except the rivers, where females predominated. All four species aggregated along the nearshore and estuarine areas in the summer when dissolved oxygen in the pelagic area was limited. Any restoration alternative for the Salton Sea should consider areas close to shore as primary areas for fish reproduction and survival.

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