Abundance and distribution of larval fishes and shrimps in the Laguna Madre, Texas : a hypersaline lagoon




Holt, Scott A. (Scott Allen)
Holt, J. (Joan)
Arnold, C. R. (Connie Ray)

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Tidal inlets connecting the Gulf of Mexico with estuarine waters are widely spaced and relatively narrow along the Texas coast. These inlets provide the sole route for ingress of larvae to the estuary for estuarine-dependent marine species and the egress of juveniles and sub-adults of these species back to the ocean. This study was an investigation of the abundance and distribution of ichthyoplankton of selected fishes and shrimps in an area where the opening and maintenance of a new tidal pass has been proposed in the Laguna Madre, a sub-tropical, hypersaline lagoon along the southern Texas coast. Surface and bottom ichthyoplankton samples were taken bimonthly in four zones in the Laguna Madre in areas which were directly influenced by tidal inlets from the Gulf of Mexico and areas isolated from such connections. Seasonal composition of the ichthyoplankton was similar to that reported from other Gulf of Mexico and southeastern United States estuaries with winter catches dominated by offshore spawners and summer catches dominated by inshore and estuarine spawners. The pelagic larvae of three species of estuarine spawners, bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), and black drum (Pogonias cromis), were common throughout the Laguna Madre at salinities up to 50°/00. Pelagic larvae of offshore spawners were abundant only in the area near the tidal inlet and only a few individuals were found dispersed throughout the lagoon. The majority of these species are distributed throughout the Laguna Madre as juveniles but the dispersion or advection of these species to areas not closely associated with tidal inlets occurs at development stages older than the pelagic larval stage. These data suggest that opening and maintaining a tidal inlet in the upper Laguna Madre would increase the opportunity for recruitment of larvae of offshore spawners into an area currently unoccupied by these life-history stages.



To Texas Water Development Board
Contract nos. IAC (88-89)1636 and (90-91)0751
October 1990