Entrainment of larval fish assemblages from the inner shelf into the East Australian Current and into the western Tasman Front

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Journal Article
Fisheries Oceanography, 2011, 20 (5), pp. 434 - 447
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Entrainment and transport of larval fish assemblages by the East Australian Current (EAC) were examined from the coastal waters of northern New South Wales (NSW) to the western Tasman Front, via the separation of the EAC from the coast, during the austral spring of 2004. Shore-normal transects from the coast to the EAC off northern NSW revealed an inner shelf assemblage of near-shore families (Clupeidae, Engraulidae, Platycephalidae and Triglidae), an EAC assemblage dominated by Myctophidae and Gonostomatidae, and a broadly distributed assemblage over the continental shelf dominated by Scombridae and Carangidae. Further south and after the EAC had separated from the coast, we observed a western Tasman Front assemblage of inner shelf and shelf families (Clupeidae, Engraulidae, Serranidae, Scombridae, Carangidae, Bothidae and Macroramphosidae). The abundance of these families declined with distance from the coast. Surprisingly, there was no distinctive or abundant larval fish assemblage in the chlorophyll- and zooplankton-enriched waters of the Tasman Sea. Water type properties (temperature-salinity, T-S), the larval fish assemblages and family-specific T-S signatures revealed the western Tasman Front to be an entrained mix of EAC and coastal water types. We found an abundance of commercially important species including larval sardine (Sardinops sagax, Clupeidae), blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus, Scombridae) and anchovy (Engraulis australis, Engraulidae). The entrainment and transport of larval fish from the northern inner shelf to the western Tasman Front by the EAC reflects similar processes with the Gulf Stream Front and the Kuroshio Extension. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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