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In this Newsletter...

We feature current research, events and outreach activities at SDSU's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory.
Sarah Wheeler, PhD Student

In this issue:

Science at Sea: A look into fisheries management

Photo of the Month
Events
Shout outs!


Photo of the Month:

Chelsea Rochman graduates with a PhD
Chelsea Rochman smiles for the camera after graduating with her PhD. Congratulations Dr. Rochman!
Click here to read about her dissertation research.

 

Events:


Come see Dr. Nosal discuss shark conservation. Protecting sharks from population decline has never been more important. Join us for a discussion about shark conservation with shark researcher Andy Nosal, recent Scripps Oceanography graduate and Birch Aquarium’s new DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellow for Ecology & Conservation. Learn about threats such as overfishing, finning, and negative public perception facing these essential marine predators.

What: Public Lecture titled, "Shark Conservation: Safeguarding the Future of Our Ocean" by Andy Nosal
When: July 8th, 6:30-8:00 pm
Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Cost: $8, RSVP here

OCEANS 2013

The OCEANS 2013 MTS/IEEE San Diego Committee invites you to participate in the world's most diverse and prestigious conference and exposition regarding our most critical resource - the oceans. This international conference is a major forum for scientists engineers and those with an interest in the oceans to gather and exchange their knowledge and ideas for the future of our oceans. In addition, a two night film festival and weekend of golf tourney will kick-off the week's activities that will also include a day of tutorials and a banquet on the USS Midway. More info.

What: OCEANS 2013: An Ocean in Common 
When: September 23rd - 26th

 

Shout Outs!


Student Research Awards
Congratulations to the recipients of SDSU's Harold and June Grant Memorial Scholarship!
Recipients: Josh Brower, Kate McDaniel, Nick Hayman, Emily Jones & Erin Voigt

Recent Publications

Jones, C.L., Anderson, T.W., Edwards, M.S. 2013. Evaluating eelgrass site quality by the settlement, performance, and survival or a marine fish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 445:61-68.

Morton, D.M. Anderson, T.W. 2013. Spatial patterns of invertebrate settlement in giant kelp forests. Marine Ecology Progress Series 485:75-89.


Science at sea: 
A look into fisheries management

 By Sarah Wheeler, Ecology Ph.D. candidate

Ever wonder how scientists study fish populations? Or what kind of data is needed to determine how many fish we can safely catch each year?
 
This May I traveled behind the scenes of fisheries management as a volunteer on the National Marine Fisheries Service rockfish survey. I boarded in San Francisco Bay on May 15th, one of the windiest days this spring. I was a little apprehensive boarding the ship in rough weather, especially since the day before one of the crew members lost the tip of his finger due to complications with the winch in high winds! We set out to sea just as the sun was setting and head to Pt. Reyes to begin our first trawl for krill, squid, and juvenile fish. This was the beginning of 8 crazy nights.
 
Each spring and summer, the NMFS scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conduct surveys along the west coast to collect data on our fisheries. These data help improve our understanding of fish biology, generate stock assessments and ultimately determine catch limits (how many fish we can safely catch year year).
 
So how does this relate to my research? Well, for the last four years I have studied the ecology of an important commercial and recreational fishery (rockfishes) in Dr. Todd Anderson’s Fish Ecology Lab. My research seeks to understand the factors that affect population replenishment of rockfishes, such as food availability, oceanography and larval movement. I was so excited to participate in this year’s survey of rockfish populations off our coast because we were catching record numbers of migrating larval and juvenile rockfish. When we caught particularly large numbers of fish, I found myself brainstorming questions and hypotheses: Why did we catch so many fish near Monterey Canyon? Was it a coincidence that we caught large numbers of krill and rockfish in the same trawl? By participating in surveys off-shore of my field sites, I was able to gain new insight into my study species and how they have been studied by NMFS for decades.
Sunset bongo tow.

Sunset bongo tow.

A typical night at sea
Each night at the start of my 8pm shift, we would deploy a bongo tow and conduct a CTD cast. A bongo tow is a fine-mesh net that used to catch small critters such as krill (aka fish food). The CTD cast measured conductivity (for salinity measurements), temperature, depth and also collected seawater samples at specified depths. Water samples used to measure the amount of phytoplankton in the water, which can tell us a lot about ocean productivity and seasonal food availability. The CTD and bongo tow helped us understand the oceanographic characteristics of each location and will be used to study how fish populations respond to changing conditions.

As soon as the CTD was retrieved, the crew deployed the trawl to deeper water (~40-100 meters). Once the net was back on deck, the catch was placed into large bins and the total volume was measured. A portion of this catch was brought to the “sorting deck” where we quantified, identified, and measured the length of each species. This protocol will allow us to evaluate how species fluctuate in response to environmental conditions or other species (competitors or predators). 
The CTD is prepped for deployment.Sorting through the catch.

The CTD is prepped for deployment (above). Sorting through the catch (below).

In any given night, we conducted 3-6 trawls until we "run out of darkness." Each trawl was conducted along a designated trawl line, with the first trawl station close to shore andsubsequent stations spanning the continental shelf. Weather permitting, each line is sampled 2x per year, allowing scientists to explore the onshore and offshore movement of fish larvae.

My Favorite Fish & Friends     

In each trawl we bring up some fascinating looking creatures! The crew used a crane to lift the net over the collection bins and we all gathered around in anticipation. It’s always a surprise! Here are some of my favorite animals that we caught.
Phronima spp.

Phronima spp. 

This is Phronima, a crustacean that eats the inside of a gelatinous creature called a salp and then lives inside its body. Does this bizarre creature look familiar? Maybe you’ve seen it featured as an alien in a movie?

cowcod

Juvenile cowcod
(Sebastes levis)

 
This little rockfish species is known as a cowcod. Like other rockfishes, these fish give live birth to their young. Cowcod may live up to 55 years old, which means a fish caught today could have been born a decade prior to the moon landing! Their long lives make them particularly sensitive to overfishing because fish are often caught before reproducing. Cowcod were overfished for many years, but are now protected in the cowcod conservation area in southern California.

king-of-the-salmon

King-of-the-salmon (Trachipterus altivelis).

This is the king-of-the-salmon (Trachipterus altivelis), a species that received its name from the Makah people, who believed that this fish led the salmon to their spawning grounds each year.

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