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.

Recent visitors ubiquitous offshore

By Jennifer Fisher
Posted on December 8, 2017

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.

Thomas rinsing the plankton sample into the jar at night. When the boat is rocking, it's much easier to sit while working than to fight the rocking boat while trying to stand upright.
The pyrosomes were much smaller nearshore (left) on the continental shelf and increased in size as we sampled farther offshore out to 85 miles (right).

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.

The plankton samples we collected from 1 mile offshore (far left) to 85 miles offshore (far right). There isn't much difference in the volume of the samples as you move farther offshore. This is typical of winter conditions when strong storms mix the seas.

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.

Very large Velella velella (blue discs) were collected offshore. These were the largest specimens I have seen with diameters of ~100 mm (left). You can see that small animals were also collected (right) as well as animals that had died recently and lost their pigments and were completely clear.

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.

The super moon rising behind rough seas.

Tagged: NH Line, CoOp

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