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Acoustic deployments reveal Antarctic silverfish under ice in the Ross Sea

  • Richard L. O’Driscoll (a1), Yoann Ladroit (a1), Steven J. Parker (a2), Marino Vacchi (a3), Simonepietro Canese (a4), Laura Ghigliotti (a3), Adam J. Dunford (a1) and Sophie Mormede (a1)...

Abstract

Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarctica Boulenger) are a keystone species in the Ross Sea. Silverfish eggs and larvae are abundant during spring amongst the sub-surface platelet ice in Terra Nova Bay. It is not known whether the eggs are spawned elsewhere and accumulate under the ice or whether there is mass migration of silverfish to coastal spawning sites in winter. To test the latter hypothesis, an upward-looking 67 kHz echo sounder was moored in Terra Nova Bay to observe potential silverfish migration. The echo sounder was deployed at 380 m in a seabed depth of 550 m and ran for 210 days from 15 May until 11 December 2015. Acoustic reflections consistent with silverfish were observed at depths of 230–380 m during 9–22 September. This timing is consistent with the presence of eggs typically observed in October. Adult silverfish were also detected with an echo sounder and camera deployed through the ice in McMurdo Sound on 10 November 2015. Juvenile silverfish, but not adults, were observed through the ice in Terra Nova Bay during 11–16 November 2017. This paper provides a proof of concept, showing that innovative use of acoustics may help fill important observation gaps in the life history of silverfish.

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