Alternate Title

Comparison of Plankton Catch by Three Light-Trap Designs in the Northern Gulf of Mexico


The ichthyoplankton catch and zooplankton biomass estimates of three light-trap designs-cylindrical, quatrefoil, and rectangular-were compared over three consecutive nights at an offshore petroleum platform in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The quatrefoil light trap had higher fish and zooplankton abundance estimates than the other two designs. Categorical analysis of the two abundant fish taxa, Opisthonema oglinum and Anchoa spp., indicated that catch by the quatrefoil and rectangular traps was similar, capturing more larvae than juveniles and more O. oglinum than Anchoa spp. relative to cylindrical trap catch. Across all fish species, the quatrefoil captured a greater percentage of larvae. Other ontogenetic and species-specific differences were noted among the light-trap designs. Samples from vertical plankton tows underestimated larger size classes compared to light-trap catch. Light-trap catch per unit effort (CPUE) declined through the night, especially for the quatrefoil, and increased with depth. In contrast, the percentage of larvae captured across all traps increased through the night and decreased with depth, indicating that CPUE was related mostly to juvenile catch. The percentage of larvae also decreased with increasing water current speed.