Potential for long-distance dispersal of Euphausia crystallorophias in fast current jets
The euphausiid Euphausia crystallorophias Holt and Tattersall, 1906 is considered to be a neritic species. It has been found in greatest abundance along the Antarctic continental margins, often in association with regions of pack ice. Although E. crystallorophias has been observed at some islands to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, the species has not previously been reported from islands of the maritime- or sub-Antarctic further north. During an oceanographic transect in November 1997 from South Georgia to the South Sandwich Islands, acoustic observations revealed a dense, discrete pelagic target at 50 m. The target was fished and was found to be an aggregation of small E. crystallorophias. The fishing location (54.48°S; 30.61°W) was >1500 km from the Antarctic continent, and >250 km from the nearest land, in water of several thousands of metres depth – clearly a non-neritic environment. Examination of hydrographic data revealed that the E. crystallorophias swarm had been located within a fast-flowing band of water that had characteristics of water found near the Antarctic Peninsula. This band was ≃150 km wide, and had a speed ranging from 9 to 22 km d−1 in a north-easterly direction. The possible origins of this E. crystallorophias swarm are explored in the light of the eddy-dominated current patterns prevalent in the Weddell–Scotia Confluence region, and with reference to published growth-rate estimates for the species. We discuss the potential for long-distance dispersal of E. crystallorophias and other neritic species in fast current jets, and examine how such oceanographic features could facilitate long-distance dispersal, colonization, and gene flow.