Northwest Fisheries Science Center

The Main Deck

Acoustic and trawl adventures in the Northeast Pacific

This portal tracks the research and sea-going activities of the Fisheries Engineering and Acoustic Technologies (FEAT) Team from NOAA¿s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.  Follow us as we use acoustics, trawling, and oceanographic sampling to learn about the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

Back deck of Bell M. Shimada
Acoustic echogram of hake
trawl catch
 

Why winter?

By Sandy Parker-Stetter
January 13, 2016


When telling people about this survey, I am most often asked the question, “Why would you want to be at sea during the winter?!” Sure, the weather isn’t the best - but winter is when Pacific hake spawn, and our goal is to learn more about what hake are doing in the winter when they think no one is watching.

We know a lot about what Pacific hake do during the summer (in this picture, hanging out with red tuna crabs), but what do they do in the winter? (Photo credit Sandy Parker-Stetter)

Hake are considered to be a 'migratory' species, which means that the adults spawn in winter in a different location than they feed in the summer. The current Pacific hake survey, that estimates the population size, occurs during summer when hake are spread from southern CA northward to BC or AK. The survey takes 110 days aboard 2 research vessels and involves dozens of scientists and crew.

Unlike the extensive summer surveys, some migratory species are surveyed during the winter, when they are spawning when the adults are expected to be in a smaller geographic area. This way, it takes fewer ship days to estimate the number of fish. Unfortunately, so little is known about Pacific hake during their spawning season that we don’t even know if a winter survey is feasible. That’s why we’re at sea this winter - to collect data that will help us to determine if a winter survey might be a better option compared to the existing summer surveys.

During this winter survey, we’ll determine: whether spawning hake are really in a smaller geographic area; whether we can predict where they are based on environmental conditions; whether males and females are found in the same location, and whether we find the immature fish nearby. Observations and data collected that allow us to understand even a few of these questions will make this survey a success!


Tagged: Winter hake survey

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