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.

June Salmon Survey Is Underway

By Cheryl Morgan
June 25, 2015

On June 20th 2015, the NOAA Fisheries juvenile salmon survey left Port Angeles, WA for our 10 day adventure sampling aboard the Canadian fishing vessel the FV Frosti.  Our target species are juvenile salmonids that are collected from the upper 20 m of the water column using a surface trawl.  Our main goal is to determine the health and abundance of juvenile salmonids during early marine residence in the NE Pacific Ocean.  We’ve been sampling 55 – 60 stations each June since 1998. These stations span from Newport, Oregon, to the northern tip of Washington state and extend from 1 to 30 miles offshore.  Every morning we conduct two hours of bird surveys before we begin trawling to determine abundance and distribution of potential avian predators.  In addition, we measure temperature, salinity and oxygen, and collect zooplankton samples.  In response to a large harmful algal bloom off our coast, we are also collecting samples to help chart its extent and magnitude.  This work is being conducted by NOAA Fisheries and Oregon State University with funding from NOAA and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Over this almost 20 year time series, we have collected samples over a wide range of ocean conditions.  For example, we have sampled during strong El Niño and La Niña conditions, during different phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), during variable Columbia River flows, and during anomalously warm conditions in the coastal ocean due to lack of upwelling.

Thus, nature has provided us a grand experiment that allows us to observe how salmon and other marine species respond to short- and long-term climate variability.  These trawl surveys, like the one we are on now, have provided insight into how ocean conditions affect the growth and of juvenile salmonids.  During periods of poor ocean conditions, juvenile salmon growth and survival is low likely due to lack of food availability and food quality. The opposite is found during periods of good ocean conditions.


We are very interested in what we will find this year because the ocean conditions are like none we have ever seen before! In the fall of 2013, the Pacific Ocean showed signs of anomalously warm surface water.  This trend continued through all of 2014 and became known as the warm ‘blob’.  Most of our sampling in 2014 was prior to this warm blob moving onshore and affecting our coastal environments.

We will post updates on what we are finding during the survey.  So, follow us, and be the first to learn about current ocean conditions, juvenile salmon abundance and other cool pelagic species!

Tagged: Salmon Survey, Warm Blob, HAB

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