Alternate Title

Age and Growth of Sand Seatrout (Cynoscion arenarius) in the Estuarine Waters of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico


Sand seatrout, Cynoscion arenarius, support a large recreational fishery in Florida, but information on the population characteristics of the species is lacking. Sand seatrout were collected incidentally during random sampling conducted by a fisheries-independent monitoring program in three Florida estuaries from Oct. 2001 through Sept. 2003. The collection gear included a 183-m haul seine (38- mm stretch mesh), a 183-m purse seine (51-mm stretch mesh), and a 6.1-m otter trawl (3-mm mesh liner). The sample was supplemented in one estuary with fish captured by hook and line. For aging, otoliths were extracted and sectioned from specimens greater than 90 mm standard length. This is the first comprehensive study of this species' age and growth characteristics derived from otoliths. A total of 1,080 sand seatrout were captured from the estuarine areas of Cedar Key, Tampa Bay, and Charlotte Harbor. Annulus counts had a high level of agreement between readers. Most disagreements between readers on the number of annuli present were whether zero or one annulus was present. Marginal-increment analysis indicated that annuli had been formed in most individuals by March. Otoliths had up to five annuli and estimated ages extended to nearly 6 yr. Observed mean length-at-age for fish of a given sex was similar across all estuaries. Length-at-age of females was greater than that of males in all estuaries. Von Bertalanffy growth models were significantly different for females and males (P < 0.01). Length: weight and length:length relationships are provided.