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Marine Science


Reproductive biology of the cobia, Rachycentron canadum, is described from four coastal areas in the southern United States. Samples were obtained from recreational fishermen between December 1995 and November 1997 from the southeastern United States (Morehead City, NC, to Cape Canaveral, FL), the eastern Gulf of Mexico (Ft. Myers to Crystal River, FL), the north-central Gulf of Mexico (Destin, FL, to Chandeleur Islands, LA) and the western Gulf of Mexico (Port Aransas, TX). Histological evidence of spawning occurred from April through September in all areas. Some female cobia (17-32%) throughout the Gulf of Mexico had spent or regressed ovaries by July. Gonadosomatic index peaked between May and July throughout the region. Ovaries of females from all areas contained both postovulatory follicles (POF) and oocytes in final oocyte maturation (FOM) during all months of the reproductive season. Batch fecundity was calculated by using three different methods: oocytes >700 pm were fixed in 1) Gilson's fixative or 2) 10% neutral buffered formalin (NBF), and 3)oocytes undergoing FOM were sectioned for histological examination. Mean batch fecundity ranged from 377,000 +/- 64,500 to 1,980,500 +/- 1,598,500 eggs; there was no significant difference among methods. Batch fecundity calculated with the NBF method showed a positive relationship with fork length (P=0.021, r(2)=0.132) and ovary-free body weight (OFBW; P=0.016, r(2)=0.143). Relative batch fecundity was not significantly different among months during the spawning season and averaged 53.1 +/-9.4 eggs/g OFBW for the NBF method and 29.1 +/- 4.8 eggs/g OFBW for the FOM method. Although spawning frequencies were not significantly differ ent among areas (P=0.07), cobia from the southeastern United States and north-central Gulf of Mexico were estimated to spawn once every 5 days, whereas cobia from the western Gulf of Mexico were estimated to spawn once every 9 to 12 days.

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Fishery Bulletin





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