Juvenile growth of white mullet Mugil curema (Teleostei: Mugilidae) in a coastal lagoon southwest of the Gulf of California
Otolith micro structure was used to determine the age and evaluate the growth of juvenile white mullet (Mugil curema) during their residence in the coastal lagoon El Conchalito, B.C.S., Mexico, from May 1997 to May 1998. Juveniles were sampled monthly during the full and ebbing phases of the maximum high tide. The juveniles studied were between 16 and 42 mm standard length (SL) and from 22 to 109 days old. The Gompertz growth model appropriately described the relationship between age and SL (r = 0.94). The average growth rate was 0.29 mm d-1 between 20 and 110 days of age, which was lower than the growth rate of the juveniles prior to entering the lagoon. This suggests that growth is faster along the coast than in the lagoon. The strategy of entering protected areas allows individuals to reach a size that maximizes escape from predators and, therefore, the probability of survival when reentering the coastal habitat.