The Larval Fish Fauna of the “Canal de Santa Cruz” - Estuary in Northeast Brazil.

Werner EKAU, Petra WESTHAUS-EKAU, Silvio José de MACÊDO, Christian von DORRIEN


was investigated. The larval distribution in the channel was analysed based on 187 samples from 9 stations collected from November 1993 to May 1994. 50 of these samples were used to investigate the taxonomic composition. Larval densities varied between 0 and 376 ind. per 50 m³. Seasonal and geographical patterns were found. Both in dry and rainy season larval abundance was low at the inner channel. Except a few hauls, most samples did not exceed densities of 25 or 45 ind./50 m³, respectively. High concentrations beyond 100 ind. per 50 m³ were found at station 2, 3 and once at station 8 in the northern part and at station 7 in the southern part of the channel. Engraulidae larvae and different types of Gobiidae were the dominant groups in the channel. These two families reached almost 76% of the whole ichthyoplankton in the catches. They are followed by Achiridae, Clupeidae, Terapontidae, Sciaenidae, Tetraodontoidei, Carangidae, Syngnathidae, Cottidae (?) and Blennioidei (summing up to 95% of the caught fish larvae in the channel). Nearly all groups are found as adults in the channel. Only five families are represented exclusively by larvae: Achiriidae, Cottidae, Terapontidae, Exocoetidae and Ephippidae. From the latter, only Exocoetidae form an oceanic group. Based on the taxa composition, it is assumed, that the importance of the estuary as nursery ground for shelf and oceanic fish is low. Key words: Ichthyoplankton; estuary; larval distribution;

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