This study examined growth, gametogenic activity, condition index, as well as the relationship of the life cycle to environmental parameters of the Cortez oyster Crassostrea corteziensis, which was cultured for 25 mo in the lagoon of Las Guásimas (Sonora, Mexico). We used oocyte diameter and cytological characteristics of the gonad to determine reproductive stages in females and males. The condition index was used to describe the oyster's physiological health. Temperature, salinity, seston, and chlorophyll a, b, and c were recorded at the study site. The Cortez oyster had isometric shell growth, reaching 103.2 ± 1.82 mm height and 150.3 ± 4.98 g total weight. Data were adjusted to the von Bertalanffy growth equation (L∞ = 132.2 mm and K = 1.08 y−1), and survival was about 70%. This native species exhibited a distinctive gametogenic cycle, with the beginning and end of the cycle controlled by seawater temperature fluctuation (15–33°C), which once started, is continuous over a 9-mo period (March to November). Elevated temperature (>25°C) produced high gametogenic activity, exhibiting primary, growing, and mature oocytes, and partial spawning in April, September, and November. The peak spawning event occurred in August, when seawater reached peak temperatures of 31°C to 33°C, which was followed by a significant reduction of the condition index. During winter, storage of nutrients took place, and this appears to be used in the following season for gametogenesis. In general, the condition index was high throughout the study period. Energy for growth and reproduction came from phytoplankton blooms in summer and high concentration throughout the year of nonchlorophyll particulate organic matter. Observations show that this oyster is a protandrous species. High survival, elevated yields, and a long, continuous gametogenic cycle indicate that C. corteziensis has importance in aquaculture in Gulf of California.
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Vol. 27 • No. 4