The population biology of the living coelacanth studied over 21 years

Fricke, Hans, Hissmann, Karen, Froese, Rainer, Schauer, Jürgen, Plante, Raphael and Fricke, Sebastian (2011) The population biology of the living coelacanth studied over 21 years Marine Biology, 158 (7). pp. 1511-1522. DOI 10.1007/s00227-011-1667-x.

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Abstract

Between 1986 and 2009 nine submersible and
remote-operated vehicle expeditions were carried out to
study the population biology of the coelacanth Latimeria
chalumnae in the Comoro Islands, located in the western
Indian Ocean. Latimeria live in large overlapping home
ranges that can be occupied for as long as 21 years. Most
individuals are confined to relatively small home ranges,
resting in the same caves during the day. One hundred and
forty five coelacanths are individually known, and we
estimate the total population size of Grande Comore as
approximately 300–400 adult individuals. The local population
inhabiting a census area along an 8-km section of
coastline remained stable for at least 18 years. Using
LASER-assisted observations, we recorded length frequencies
between 100 and 200 cm total length and did not
encounter smaller-bodied individuals (\100 cm total
length). It appears that coelacanth recruitment in the
observation areas occur mainly by immigrating adults. We
estimate that the mean numbers of deaths and newcomers
are 3–4 individuals per year, suggesting that longevity may
exceed 100 years. The domestic fishery represents a threat
to the long-term survival of coelacanths in the study area.
Recent changes in the local fishery include a decrease in
the abundance of the un-motorized canoes associated with
exploitation of coelacanths and an increase in motorized
canoes. Exploitation rates have fallen in recent years, and
by 2000, had fallen to lowest ever reported. Finally, future
fishery developments are discussed.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Ichthyology; coelacanth
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > ZE Central Facilities > ZE-TLZ Technical and Logistics
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00227-011-1667-x
ISSN: 0025-3162
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2011 07:39
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2014 13:50
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/12050

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