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

...and we're also looking for Harmful Algal Blooms

By Anthony Odell and Sandy Parker-Stetter
February 7, 2016

Sandy: Although the Winter Survey has been very hake-centric, we’re also collecting oceanographic data, observations of marine birds and mammals, and have a team riding along to look for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). The critters are known for shutting down fisheries due to toxins. Anthony Odell has been with us for both legs 1 and 2 – let’s hear from him on why he’s so interested in HABs and cool things that he has seen so far.

Anthony: I work for the University of Washington’s Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, WA. I am based out Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, WA where I coordinate the coastal harmful algal bloom monitoring effort, a.k.a. ORHAB (Olympic Region Harmful Algal Bloom) monitoring program. The NWFSC-FRAM-FEAT folks have graciously allowed us to piggy back on their Winter Hake Survey and are fortuitously covering the very same waters aboard the Bell M. Shimada that we are interested for monitoring HABs off the West Coast. 

After the unprecedented toxic algae bloom in 2015, we wanted to look offshore to nearshore to see if the bloom had persisted or showed any signs of an early bloom for 2016, especially under the influence of the warmer waters generally associated with the potentially very strong El Niño we are expecting. Now that we have completed a majority of the sampling, it appears that, although phytoplankton abundance and diversity is typically seasonally low, there are still several locations where HAB species are existing and even doing well. I think more notable than the HAB observations, are the regular occurrences of phytoplankton species whose distributions are often considered tropical or warm temperate we have found off of northern CA to central OR in the middle of January. This may very well be indicative of El Niño’s influence. I have spent a good amount of time in my taxonomy books working to ID several species I am not familiar with seeing off our coast even in summer.

Ornithocerus magnificus, a dinoflagellate generally found in warm temperate to tropical water found on Heceta Banks off of the central Oregon coast on January 16th, 2016. Photo credit Anthony Odell (UW)

The cruise otherwise has been an excellent adventure and enriching experience as well. We have had quite a bit of rough weather at times, as well as smooth sailing with amazing views at sea and near shore. We’ve also had many encounters with marine mammals I don’t think I will soon forget. I have had a chance to meet and work with other scientists from different fields of oceanography and marine biology learning much along the way, as well as make friends with the quite exceptional crew of the ship. The meals are second to none, with gourmet meals every day, and we all feel quite pampered by the galley staff. I hope to see everyone again on the next hake cruise this summer!

Tagged: Winter hake survey

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