Seasonality in Phytoplankton Species Composition and their Influence on Small Pelagic Fish along the Western Pemba Channel
Keywords:Phytoplankton, monsoon seasons, chlorophyll-a, Pemba Channel, small pelagic fish
The influence of phytoplankton biomass on small pelagic fish groups was studied at three sites along the Western Pemba Channel, to assess the contribution of seasonality. Sampling took place at the three sites in the coastal waters of Tanga, Tanzania. The study used in-situ data from July 2016 to January 2017, remotely-sensed chlorophyll-a data from August 2016 to August 2017 and 2019–2020, and small pelagic fish catch data from the same periods as the remotely-sensed data. The dominant groups at all the three sites were diatoms, dinoflagellates, and cyanobacteria, with diatoms having the highest number of species compared to the other two. In comparison to the southeast monsoon season, phytoplankton species and biomass were significantly higher during the northeast monsoon season. The most plentiful fish were anchovies, which had high peaks in both seasons, followed by sardinella, while mackerel had the lowest catch. Chlorophyll-a and anchovy catches showed a positive correlation; however, the relationship was not significant (r = 0.47, df = 11, p = 0.12). Both variables showed the highest peaks in October, while other fish groups showed very weak and insignificant positive or negative correlations. These findings suggest that factors other than phytoplankton biomass contribute to controlling small pelagic fish availability.
Keywords: Phytoplankton; monsoon seasons; chlorophyll-a; Pemba Channel; small pelagic fish