Volume 63

Age and Growth of Invasive Lionfish in the Western North Atlantic

Potts, J., D. Berrane, and J.A. Morris, Jr.
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Date: November, 2010

Pages: 314

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty-Third Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Juan

Country: Puerto Rico


An age and growth study of lionfish, Pterois volitans and P. miles, was conducted using sagittal otoliths collected from 2004-2009 from Onslow Bay, North Carolina. Specimens were collected primarily by research divers using nets and spears. A few fish were caught on commercial and recreational hook and line gear. Sagittal otoliths (n = 814) were removed from lionfish ranging in size from 90 – 464 mm total length (TL). When viewed whole, the sagittal otoliths were highly opaque making the annuli difficult to discern; therefore, the otoliths needed to be sectioned for age determination. Otoliths were relatively small and fragile, and required embedding in epoxy to be sectioned. Based on marginal increment analysis and consistency in radial measurement to the first presumed annulus, the alternating pattern of opaque and translucent zones appeared annular in nature. Annuli counts were adjusted to calendar age based on month of capture and formation of the opaque zone. Thus, lionfish ranged from calendar age 0 to 8 years, and most of the fish (90%) were age 3 or younger. Growth was rapid during the first and second year of life, attaining on average 150 mm TL within the first year, but also reaching up to 220 mm TL. During the second year, lionfish averaged 230 mm TL, but were as large as 318 mm TL. The von Bertalanffy growth equation based on observed TL at age is Lt = 455.1(1 – e-0.32(t + 1.22)).

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