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Distribution of early life Pacific halibut and comparison with Greenland halibut in the eastern Bering Sea Public Deposited

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  • Information about spatial distribution patterns during early life stages of fish is key to understanding dispersal trajectories and connectivity from spawning to nursery areas, as well as adult population dynamics. More than 30 years of historical field data were analyzed in order to describe the horizontal and vertical distributions of Pacific halibut early life stages (larvae to juveniles) in the eastern Bering Sea and to compare the distributions between Pacific halibut and Greenland halibut. Our results indicate that spawning for both species likely occurred in Bering and Pribilof canyons, along the slope between the two canyons, and on the eastern side of the Aleutian Islands during winter, but Pacific halibut spawning was protracted until early spring. Larvae of both species rose to shallower depths in the water column as they developed, but Pacific halibut larvae had an abrupt movement toward shallower depths. Geographically, larvae for both species either advected northwestward along the Bering Sea Slope or crossed onto the shelves from the slope regions, but the timing in Pacific halibut larval progression onto the shelf and along the slope was earlier than for Greenland halibut larvae. Pacific halibut juveniles (≤ 90 mm total length (TL)) were mostly found in the inner shelf between Bristol Bay and Nunivak Island, along the Alaskan Peninsula, and in the vicinity of the Pribilof Islands. The range of Greenland halibut juvenile (≤ 90 mm TL) distribution was expanded to south of the Pribilof Islands in the middle shelf and to the inner shelf. Although the two species share some attributes (i.e., spawning location) during early life stages, there were species-specific differences associated with spatial distribution (vertically and horizontally), timing differences in larval progression onto the shelves, pelagic larval duration, and juvenile nursery areas.
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  • Sohn, D., Ciannelli, L., & Duffy-Anderson, J. T. (2016). Distribution of early life Pacific halibut and comparison with Greenland halibut in the eastern Bering Sea. Journal of Sea Research, 107, 31-42. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2015.09.001
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  • 107
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  • This research was supported by the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB), project #619 and #905. This paper is NPRB contribution number 561. This research is contribution EcoFOCI-N833 to NOAA's Ecosystems and Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Investigations
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