250 years of sardine and anchovy scale deposition record in Mejillones Bay, northern Chile
Marine oxygen-deficient environments with high sedimentation rates and high primary productivity can provide relevant information regarding variations of ocean–climatic conditions in the past. In the Humboldt current ecosystem, which now hosts huge populations of pelagic fishes (mainly anchovy and sardine), fish scale abundance in the sedimentary record may be useful indicators of environmental change. Here we assess such a proxy record in a 42 cm-long sedimentary core collected from 80 min Mejillones Bay (23 S, northern Chile). We also analyse fish remains in surface sediment sampled along a bathymetric transect (from 10 to 110 m water depth) in the same bay. In the core-top record, the fluctuations of sardine and anchovy scale deposition rates (SDR) agreed with those of industrial catches for these two species in northern Chile, tending to validate the SDR as a proxy of local fish biomass when bottom anoxic conditions prevail. However, apparent SDR for records prior to 1820 have probably been influenced by dissolution processes linked to the oxygenation of the bottom environment of Mejillones Bay, as suggested by other proxy records. After 1820, the fluctuations in the relative abundance of sardine and anchovy scales point to alternating warm and cold conditions during about 30 years and then a progressively cooler period. Since ca. 1870, marked fluctuations of SDR of both species are observed, probably as a consequence of the onset of a different oceanographic regime characterized by intensified upwelling, stronger subsurface oxygen deficiency, higher primary productivity, and enhanced ‘‘ENSOlike” interdecadal variability. While anchovy SDR fluctuated in periods of 25–40 years, only two peak periods of sardine SDR occurred (late 19th century and late 20th century), suggesting that sardine abundance depends on other ocean–climatic factors.
This study is a contribution of the collaborative PALEOBAME Project between Institut de Recherche pour le Développement and Universidad de Antofagasta, and a product of the JEAI (Jeune Equipe associée à l’IRD) project LASPAL (Laboratorio de Sedimentologia y Paleoambientes) led by the first author (JV). It also benefited from IAI grant No. 03SGP211-222 (Instituto del Mar de Perú, Peru; Universidad de Antofagasta, Chile; Universidad de Chile, Chile; CICESE, México; and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA, PI D. Gutiérrez).
Quote ItemPROGRESS IN OCEANOGRAPHY, Volume: 79, Issue: 2-4, Special Issue: Sp. Iss. SI, Pages: 198-207, 2008