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Achotines Laboratory


At-sea surveys of larval tunas

The Achotines Laboratory was inaugurated in 1985.  Early research through 1993 involved laboratory and field studies of early life stages of near-shore tropical tunas (link to publications list).  At-sea surveys were carried out to describe the distribution and abundance of larval tunas in the northwestern Panama Bight.  Laboratory and in situ studies were conducted to study the ageing and growth, nutrition, ontogeny of endothermy, and development of vision in larval and early-juvenile tunas.

Larval yellowfin tuna otolith with daily increments for ageing and growth studies

Yellowfin tuna larva (11 mm in length) collected at sea and used in an analysis of larval growth rates in the wild

Section of the retina in the eye of a black skipjack larva showing a region of high cone density (left arrow) (mid-arrow indicates anterior direction of larva)

Histology sections of the liver in healthy (left) and starving (right) tuna larvae

A Tucker trawl was used to collect ichthyoplankton at discrete depths

In 1992 IATTC scientists began collaborative work on the rearing of larval tunas with Japanese scientists in Japan.  In 1993 this research led to a joint project centered at the Achotines Laboratory, initiated by the IATTC, the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation (OFCF) of Japan, and the government of the Republic of Panama.  The objective of the project was to investigate the culture and captive spawning of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), snapper (Lutjanidae), and corvina (Sciaenidae) in land-based tanks to provide larvae and juveniles for research purposes.  The infrastructure expansion necessary to hold yellowfin tuna broodstock and to provide cultured food items for their larvae was completed by mid-1996.  Construction of additional tanks and a concrete pier were completed by late 1999. Studies of the reproductive biology and early life history of yellowfin tuna have been conducted by the IATTC’s Early Life History group from 1996 to the present.

Early construction of in-ground tanks for yellowfin tuna and snapper broodstocks

Further along in the construction of in-ground tanks