Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 8, pp 1823–1834 | Cite as

Diel vertical movements of adult male dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) in the western central Atlantic as determined by use of pop-up satellite archival transmitters

  • Wessley MertenEmail author
  • Richard Appeldoorn
  • Roberto Rivera
  • Donald Hammond
Original Paper


The vertical movements of six adult male dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) (95–120 cm estimated fork length), caught using standard sportfishing methods, were investigated using high-rate single-point pop-up satellite archival transmitters from 2005 to 2011 in the western central Atlantic. Data revealed a diel activity pattern within the mixed surface layer with dives below the thermocline suggesting temperature is not a barrier to vertical movements for short periods of time. Dolphinfish were tracked for periods of 4.96–30.24 day (Σ = 83.37 day), reaching depths >200 m, and in temperatures ranging from 16.20 to 30.87 °C. The six tags allowed comprehensive vertical movement analyses by time of day, duration at depth, and based on vertical movement patterns. The longest (>60 min), deepest (>30 m), and most extensive vertical movement patterns occurred during night rather than day, with the most time spent near the surface during the day. Dolphinfish spent 66 % of their time in the surface layer (0–9.9 m) and only one individual spent 8 % of the monitoring period diving >8 °C from the maximum surface temperatures recorded while tracked. Two tags were analyzed based on lunar phase and revealed contrasting relationships between vertical movements during new and full phases. Our results suggest dolphinfish vertically shift between surface and at-depth feeding strategies to exploit aggregating epipelagic and mesopelagic prey items leading to predictable diel vertical movements.


Vertical Movement Surface Object Diving Behavior Oxygen Minimum Zone Lunar Phase 
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.



This research was supported by funding through the Marine Resources Division of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Cooperative Science Services, LLC., Dolphinfish Research Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources F-66.1 grant awarded to the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. We would like two anonymous reviewers for providing valuable suggestions during their reviews of earlier versions of this manuscript. We would like to thank all of the recreational, charter, and commercial fisherman, and all of the businesses, organizations, and individuals for their financial support making this study possible. Your dedication to the advancement of our understanding of dolphinfish is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

227_2014_2464_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (123 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 123 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wessley Merten
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Richard Appeldoorn
    • 1
  • Roberto Rivera
    • 2
  • Donald Hammond
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of Puerto Rico MayagüezMayagüezUSA
  2. 2.College of BusinessUniversity of Puerto Rico MayagüezMayagüezUSA
  3. 3.Dolphinfish Research ProgramCooperative Science Services LLCCharlestonUSA

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