Natural History Observations of Hawaiian Garden Eels, Gorgasia hawaiiensis (Congridae: Heterocongrinae), from the Island of Hawai'i

Donham, E., Foster, M. S., Rice, M. R., Cailliet, G. M., Yoklavich, M. M., & Hamilton, S. L. (2017). Natural History Observations of Hawaiian Garden Eels, Gorgasia hawaiiensis (Congridae: Heterocongrinae), from the Island of Hawai'i, 71(2), 135-147. doi:10.2984/71.2.3
Metadata
TitleNatural History Observations of Hawaiian Garden Eels, Gorgasia hawaiiensis (Congridae: Heterocongrinae), from the Island of Hawai'i
AuthorsE. Donham, S. Foster, R. Rice, M. Cailliet, M. Yoklavich, L. Hamilton
AbstractGarden eels occur worldwide in the tropics, but little is known about their biology and ecology. We studied Hawaiian garden eel (Gorgasia hawaiiensis) colonies near Kawaihae, Hawai'i, to investigate multiple aspects of basic biology of this species. Colonies of G. hawaiiensis occurred at depths from 16 to 36 m in soft-bottom habitat adjacent to rocky reefs. Highest burrow densities (up to 40 eels m-2) were in shallower water, and large (~10 mm diameter) burrows were more abundant, less dense, and commonly found in pairs in deeper water. Eels emerged around sunrise and withdrew and covered burrow entrances around sunset. Age was estimated from annual rings in sectioned otoliths (n = 17) and modeled to suggest fast growth to a maximum size of ~600 mm total length and a maximum age of 6 yr. Prey size and eel anatomy suggest that these fish feed by ingesting planktonic prey and processing them in the esophagus. The most common food items were small (<0.5 mm) demersal harpacticoid, cyclopoid, and calanoid copepods and unidentified fish eggs. These and other observations indicate that G. hawaiiensis is abundant, has a high population turnover rate, and may enrich sandy-bottom habitat within their beds by facilitating energy flow from the water column to the benthos. © 2017 by University of Hawai'i Press.
Date2017
Volume71
Issue2
Start page135
End page147
NoteExport Date: 17 April 2017, Article

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