Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Newportal Blog

A gateway to oceanographic adventures from the Newport Line and beyond

Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.

What's on the sandy seafloor?

By Jennifer Fisher
Posted on August 28, 2015

It’s 7:22 pm, we are 45 miles offshore of Newport, Oregon, and we just finished sampling at a station. I am writing from the Timmy Boy which is a 60’ fishing vessel owned and Captained by Bob Eder. Dillon Eder (Bob’s son) and Drew Rasmussen are also on board as deckhand, cooks, boat driver, science helpers; everything really.

We are working on a Cooperative Research project that utilizes fishing vessels to sample the pelagic (midwater) and benthic (bottom) habitats off Newport Oregon. Larval fish spend weeks to months in the pelagic environment until they metamorphose and become bottom-dwelling juveniles. By sampling both the midwater and bottom habitats, we hope to understand whether the fluctuations we observe in pelagic larval fish abundance are expressed as similar changes to benthic juvenile fish abundance. To do this, we sample 12 stations located 1 – 85 miles offshore quarterly aboard fishing vessels. This is our second day out, we have one station left, and we hope to be back at the dock by 2am.


To sample the bottom, we use a beam trawl that crawls along the seafloor and scares small fish into the net. There is a camera mounted on the net frame with lights and lasers that are used to measure the fish that are recorded going into the net. The net is towed for ten minutes and all the contents are pulled on board, put in to a cooler, and sorted. We also measure and identify all of the fish.


You never know what will be brought up in the net. As Bob Eder put it, it’s like opening a X-mas present over and over again. At one station we pulled up a bunch of mud-like sand that was filled with marine leaches. Another time, the contents were filled with mats of glass-like tubes- likely polychaetes (worms). We are targeting flatfishes, and we often see many different species.

Earlier this year, we were collecting many small red octopuses, a phenomenon that has spurred a separate study on these organisms since they have not been observed in this high of abundance before.

The strangest thing we collected this trip was a large blue sphere that was covered inbarnacles. At first we thought it was Styrofoam, but it was much heavier than Styrofoam. After more inspection that led to the sphere cracking, and a large yolk spilling on to the deck, we finally realized it was a bird egg! From the barnacle growth, we assumed the egg had been in the ocean for a long time, but the yolk appeared in good condition (bright yellow) and the egg didn’t smell rotten, maybe the cold water preserved the egg?



I’d like to give a huge thanks to Bob, Dillon and Drew of the F/V Timmy Boy. They keep a very nice boat and were a pleasure to work with! Thanks guys!

Stay tuned to learn about what we found in the midwater during this research cruise aboard the F/V Timmy Boy.


Tagged: NH Line, CoOp Survey

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