Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Business

First Advisor

Juliana M. Harding


Estuaries are geomorphologically complex habitats and productive nurseries for fishes. Spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) are seasonally abundant and ecologically relevant in U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast estuaries. Juvenile spot initially occupy and forage on infaunal invertebrates in smaller tidal creeks with abundant soft-sediment subtidal habitats. Both diet and feeding habitat change ontogenetically with larger, older spot moving into deeper estuary habitats during the endof their first year. Spot that grow quickly may better suited for successful transition to offshore habitats at the end of their first year, potentially increasing year-class survival. Juvenile spot age and growth rates were quantified for young of the year fish collected in July 2022 from North Inlet tidal creeks to evaluate potential creek-specific growth differences. Spot (n=47) were collected using seines and cast nets. Individual standard lengths (mm) were measured when lapilli were extracted. Age (days) estimates from lapilli were used to estimate age-at-standard length and calculate individual growth rates. Spot standard lengths ranged from 34 mm to 84 mm. Spot caught at Oyster Landing ranged in age from 100 to 128 days. There were two cohorts corresponding to a mid-April and mid-May ingress with growth rates of 0.65 mm/d and 0.62 mm/d, respectively. These growth rates are higher than previous data from Oyster Landing from March to June 2006 of 0.16 mm/d. Higher growth rates may lead to earlier migration from estuary habitats to the coastal ocean and onset of maturity. Future efforts to compare overall nursery growth patterns and secondary productivity in South Atlantic Bight tidal estuaries relative to North Inlet and other smaller estuaries would likely be beneficial for more accurate future habitat and transient nekton stock management.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, December 31, 2027