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Age, growth, and mortality of gray triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) from the southeastern United States
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  • Source:
    Fishery Bulletin, 113(1), 27-39.
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  • Description:
    Gray triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) sampled from recreational and commercial vessels along the southeastern coast of the United States in 1990-2012 (n=6419) were aged by counting translucent bands on sectioned first dorsal spines. Analysis of type of spine edge (opaque or translucent) revealed that annuli formed during March-June, with a peak in April and May. Gray triggerfish were aged up to 15 years, and the largest fish measured 567 ram in fork length (FL). Weight-length relationships from a different set of sampled fish were ln(W)=2.98xln(FL)-17.5 (n=20,431; coefficient of determination [r(2)]=0.86), in-transform fit; W=3.1 x 10(-5) TL2.88 (n=7618), direct nonlinear fit; and FL=30.33+0.79xTL (n=8065; r(2)=0.84), where W=whole weight in grams, FL=fork length in millimeters, and TL=total length in millimeters. Mean observed sizes at ages 1, 3, 5, 10, and 15 years were 305, 353, 391, 464, and 467 mm FL, respectively. The von Bertalanffy growth equation for gray triggerfish was L-t=457 (1-e((-0.33(t+1-58)))). Natural mortality (M) estimated by Hewitt and Hoenig's longevity-based method that integrates all ages was 0.28. Age-specific M values, estimated with the method of Charnov and others, were 0.65, 0.45, 0.38, 0.34, and 0.33 for ages 1, 3, 5, 10, and 15, respectively. Gray triggerfish recruited fully to recreational fisheries by age 4 and to the commercial fishery by age 5. Estimates of total mortality averaged 0.95 across all fisheries for the years 1986-2011.
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