Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 6, pp 2063–2075 | Cite as

Reproductive status and body condition of Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Maine, 2000–2002

  • Jennifer GoldsteinEmail author
  • Scott Heppell
  • Andrew Cooper
  • Solange Brault
  • Molly Lutcavage
Research Article


The reproductive status and body condition of 195 (≥185 cm curved fork length, CFL; assigned age 7 and above) Atlantic bluefin tuna were assessed in the Gulf of Maine during the commercial fishing season of June–October, 2000–2002. Given the distance between known spawning and feeding grounds, the prevailing paradigm for Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus thynnus, L.) suggests that the most likely histological state for females arriving in the Gulf of Maine after spawning would be a resting or quiescent state with little or no perigonadal fat. Alternatively, the presence of mature or mature-inactive histological states in some females supports a more varied or individualistic model for bluefin reproduction. No relationship was found between body condition and reproductive status. Males were found in all reproductive stages, but were more likely to be in spawning condition (stages 4 and 5) or a mature-inactive state (stage 6) in June and July. Female bluefin tuna were found in stage 1 (immature or non-spawning) and stage 6 (mature-inactive). Stage 6 females were only present in June and July and smaller females (<235 cm CFL) were more likely to be in stage 6 than large females (>235 cm CFL) sampled during those same months. The presence of smaller females in stage 6 arriving at the same time as larger females in stage 1 indicates that Western Atlantic bluefin tuna may have an asynchronous reproductive schedule and may mature at a smaller size than the currently accepted paradigm suggests.


Body Condition Reproductive Stage Bluefin Tuna Atretic Follicle Vitellogenic Oocyte 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Mike Blanchard, Matt Bunnell, John Caldwell, Bill Chaprales, Rocky Chase, Scott Drabinowicz, Mark Godfried, Eric and John Hesse, Jeff Tutein, Dave and Greg Walinski, Cape Quality Bluefin and Fresh Water Fish for collecting samples. We also thank Jennifer Bowdoin and Jennifer Albright for help with sampling, Kurt Schaefer and Antonio Medina for advice on histology, Chris Bridges for hormonal analysis, Ben Galuardi for spatial analysis, and Frank Cyganowski and the late Peter C. Wilson for use of unpublished materials. This work was supported by NOAA Grant NA04NMF4550391 to M. Lutcavage. All work was done under compliance with UNH IACUC and NOAA Exempted Fishing Permits.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Goldstein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Scott Heppell
    • 2
  • Andrew Cooper
    • 3
  • Solange Brault
    • 1
  • Molly Lutcavage
    • 4
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural Resources, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Large Pelagics Research CenterUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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