Scientia Marina, Vol 80, No 2 (2016)

Characterization of the spawning area of tuna species on the northern Tunisian coasts

Wael Koched
Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM) , Tunisia

Francisco Alemany
Instituto Español de Oceanografía , Spain

Benmessaoud Rimel
Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM) , Tunisia

Abdallah Hattour
Institut National des Sciences et Technologies de la Mer (INSTM) , Tunisia


Early life stages of tuna species were investigated along the northern coasts of Tunisia in the summer of 2010, from 7 to 14 July. A total of 74 stations, distributed on a regular grid, were sampled. Larvae of five tuna species were identified: the Atlantic bluefin tuna, the bullet tuna, the Atlantic black skipjack, the Atlantic bonito and the albacore tuna. Larval distribution patterns show that Atlantic bluefin tuna and albacore tuna usually spawn in offshore oligotrophic waters and Atlantic black skipjack larvae on the continental shelf. The widespread distribution of bullet tuna larvae, suggests that it spawns on the entire continental shelf and over the shelf break. The results from the quotient analysis carried out to characterize the spawning habitat of each species, show that the input of recent surface Atlantic water (AW) masses play a key role in the spawning strategy of tuna species, particularly in the case of the Atlantic bluefin tuna, whose larvae were mainly caught in the mixed waters resulting from the interaction between recent AW and resident AW, as demonstrated by their preference for salinity values between 36.9 and 37.4.


tuna larvae; environmental variables; spatial distribution; spawning area; water masses; Mediterranean

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