Behavior Observations

Possible Pre-Spawning Event on the Triumph - 12/31/09

During a regular lingcod census dive on 12/31/2009, Ken Collins observed one gravid female and several male lingcod engaged in what was possibly pre-spawning behavior. The following are Ken's observations. Copyright 2009 Ken Collins.

The dive was carried out at dusk at the start of a strong ebb tide - going from 11.6 ft at 2:57 PM to -3.2 ft at 10:30 PM. Water temperature was 47 degrees F. Visiblity was 25 ft. 24 individual lingcod were sighted on this dive.

The possible pre-spawning event was observed from 3:58 PM to 4:08 PM during a period with a slight but noticeable current to the north. The fish were observed at depths from 20 to 30 feet.

I was swimming north through the middle of the EUWP, observing lingcod and looking for new nests. I had noted two gravid females, when I paused to check on the status of a relatively new nest: Tag # 11 (2010-011)) that I had tagged on 12/24.

I noticed a dark-mottled “guard” fish (Male 1) first, but couldn’t see the eggs.I estimated Male 1 to be about 70 cm long, but did not measure it. I also noticed the metal bar which I had placed the tag on had moved up maybe 50cm since 12/24.

The guard fish was acting odd. Instead of normal guarding behavior, in which the fish would face me, place itself between me and the eggs and perhaps even attack me, it was faced away from me.

It was also “twitching”. The observed twitching was not the quivering behavior noted during a male fish courting a female. I thought perhaps the guard fish was injured.

Note - Male 1 is not the same fish that was guarding nest 11 on 12/24. This was determined from photos of the left sides of the two fishes . The guard fish of 12/24 also had distinctive split in its left pectoral fin. At that time the fish had been aggressive in its defense of the eggs.

After taking the picture of Male 1, I looked up at the tag for nest 11 and saw a large white object, which turned out to be the underbelly of an extremely gravid female lingcod nose down in the structure, wedged in with its fins, and not moving.

It was pretty dark, and I wasn’t able to see the head, which is quite clear in the picture . Note the left pectoral fin is under the bar with the tag on it. The tag is about 1M above the bottom where Male 1 was. This picture is facing East.

There is another male (“Male 2”) behind and to the left of the female in the picture. More....


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