NOAA News –
Biologists at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) have cracked the code for how to spawn Pacific sardines in the laboratory, opening a new window on the life cycle of the commercially important species.
Like many species, sardines require just the right conditions to reproduce. Researchers working with sardines in the SWFSC’s Experimental Aquarium had tried for decades to identify those conditions. Then in early March, they hit upon the right combination of conditions and documented sardine spawning for the first time in captivity.
“The biggest challenge is getting them comfortable enough in captivity to get them ready to spawn, because we’re trying to replicate the conditions they would experience in the ocean,” said John Hyde, leader of the Experimental Aquarium and Fisheries Genetics Program at the Science Center.
The advance will allow scientists to more closely study and better understand the early life cycle of the species that is known for wide swings in abundance. That in turn will help biologists refine the life-cycle models they use to estimate the size of the sardine population and determine whether enough fish are available to support commercial harvest.