Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.
We finally got a break in the stormy seas and sampled offshore to 85 miles off Newport aboard the F/V Timmy Boy earlier this week. While the seas were not as calm as I had wanted, the skies were clear and the air was crisp. We were anxious about what we'd find offshore, since pyrosomes had recently been washing up on Oregon beaches by the millions.
Indeed, at every station from 10 miles off Newport out to 85 miles- we collected pyrosomes in our plankton nets in fairly high densities. The animals were smaller nearshore, on the continental shelf, ranging from 20-60 mm. Once off the continental shelf, the pyrosomes became larger- reaching 140 mm.
With the exception of the pyrosomes, the plankton samples were not very dense with zooplankton. However, this is the normal pattern during winter, increased winds result in a mixed water column and there is reduced phytoplankton and zooplankton production.
A common visitor was collected offshore, the By-the-Wind sailor, Velella velella. We often collect Velella at the surface in our neuston net, but what struck us this trip, was how large the Velella were. Some of the animals we collected were the largest I have ever seen- diameters reaching approximately 100 mm. The other striking characteristic of these large animals was how thick their float was.