National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2007

Distribution and transport patterns of northern rock sole, Lepidopsetta polyxystra, larvae in the southeastern Bering Sea

Lanksbury, J.A., J.T. Duffy-Anderson, M.S. Busby, P.J. Stabeno, and K.L. Mier

Prog. Oceanogr., 72(1), 39–62, doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2006.09.001 (2007)

We report the size, abundance, and distribution (horizontal, vertical) of northern rock sole, Lepidopsetta polyxystra, larvae collected from ichthyoplankton surveys on the southeastern Bering Sea shelf near Unimak Island, in Unimak Pass, and in the Gulf of Alaska south of Unimak Island. The greatest abundances of larvae occurred within Unimak Pass and in the Bering Sea northeast of Unimak Island. Larvae were smaller and more abundant in 2002 than in 2003. Larval abundance and size varied with depth. Highest abundances were at depths of 10–30 m during the day, and larger fish appeared to migrate from below 20 m to 0–10 m at night. There was evidence of multiple spawning locales and larval dispersal pathways that were depth- and area-specific. Northern rock sole larvae spawned west of Unimak Pass along the Aleutian Islands may be transported northward by the Bering Slope Current. Larvae spawned in the Gulf of Alaska and advected through Unimak Pass are differentially dispersed, primarily to the middle and outer shelves along the 100 m and 200 m isobaths, or along the Alaska Peninsula. Larvae spawned along the Alaska Peninsula east of Unimak Island appear to have the greatest chance of being transported to nursery areas in the coastal domain. Dispersal of near-surface northern rock sole larvae in any of these locations is likely influenced by wind-driven advection, but below-surface (>10 m) northern rock sole larval transport is probably more affected by factors that modulate geostrophic flow rather than wind-driven surface currents.

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