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Selective Tidal Stream Transport by American Eels During Homing Movements and Estuarine Migration

  • Steven J. Parker (a1) and James D. McCleave (a2)

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Behaviour during homing movements and downstream migration of yellow- and silver-phase American eels (Anguilla rostrata) was observed using continuous ultrasonic telemetry in a tidal estuary. Homing subadult (yellow-phase) eels, non-displaced yellow-phase eels and adult (silver-phase) eels all used tidal currents as a transport mechanism (‘selective tidal stream transport’) and possibly as a means of orienting and moving in an appropriate direction. Yellow-phase eels displaced up the estuary and migrating silver-phase eels moved mostly at night and during ebbing tides. Yellow-phase eels displaced down the estuary moved mainly during flooding tides both day and night. Non-displaced eels used selective tidal stream transport to make long, round trip excursions and to move about their home range. Eels were at or near the surface during most of their movements, but were also vertically active, diving transiently to mid-water or to the bottom. During movements, the eels tended to drift with the current, or to swim slowly in the direction of the current. Although they used the tidal currents effectively as a transport mechanism, they were not precise in timing their movements to maximize transport on each tide. This study demonstrates that both yellow- and silver-phase eels use selective tidal stream transport during movements in tidal habitats and excludes some cues previously proposed to regulate the behaviour.

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Selective Tidal Stream Transport by American Eels During Homing Movements and Estuarine Migration

  • Steven J. Parker (a1) and James D. McCleave (a2)

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