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RECA: Gulf of Alaska

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Recruitment, Energetics, & Coastal Assessment
Recruitment Energetics
Coastal Assessment:
Gulf of Alaska
Coastal Mapping
Program Activities:
Data Sets
Winter breach in Prince William Sound, NMFS John Moran
Winter breach in Prince William Sound, NMFS John Moran

Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment (RECA) researchers are providing leadership, expertise and data for the Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s Gulf of Alaska Assessment and Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) monitoring programs in Prince William Sound. Our role in the Gulf of Alaska Assessment is to index the condition of juvenile gadids and rockfish collected during annual surveys. As participants in the EVOSTC funded Gulf Watch Alaska long-term ecosystem monitoring program RECA provides data on interactions between humpback whales and herring, nearshore benthos and lingering oil. Our participation in the EVOSTC funded Herring Condition Monitoring Program is focused on relating the wintering success of age-0 herring to their recruitment into the spawning stock biomass.

Gulf of Alaska Assessment
Since 2011 we have assessed the energy content and growth of juvenile rockfish, salmon, pollock and Pacific cod caught in surveys of the Gulf of Alaska. Our goal is to establish a time series of observations that can be releated to recruitment indices for these species and observations of environmental variation. These data play an important role in assessing the ability of the Gulf ecosystem to produce fish for harvest in commercial fisheries

Gulf Watch Alaska - Pelagic Ecosystems component
RECA scientists lead the Pelagic Ecosystems component of Gulf Watch Alaska , which includes encompasses six projects focused on collecting long-term predator and prey species data from sites centered in Prince William Sound (PWS). Many of these projects have long-term data sets and publications that contain decades of information ranging from the abundance of whale groups, or pods, to the distribution and abundance of their prey. Humpback whale predation on herring has been a focus of our research for this program.

Humpback whale predation on herring: This study evaluates the impact by humpback whales on Pacific herring populations in Prince William Sound. Monitoring is focused on the seasonal trends and abundance of humpback whales in Prince William Sound. Prey selection by humpback whales will be determined through acoustic surveys, visual observation scat analysis and prey sampling. Chemical analysis of blubber samples (stable isotopes and fatty acid analysis) will provide a longer term perspective on whale diet and shifts in prey type. These data are combined in a bioenergetic model to determine numbers of herring consumed by whales each winter.

Gulf Watch Alaska - Benthic Ecosystems component
The Benthic (nearshore intertidal and subtidal areas) Ecosystems component is focusing on collecting data on long-term nearshore species abundance, distribution, community composition, and site-specific environmental data. Sites are centered in Prince William Sound, the outer Kenai Peninsula, Kachemak Bay, and Katmai coast. This is the area impacted by the oil spill and where injury assessment studies were conducted in the years following the spill. Our expertise of these nearshore ecosystems and the long-term impacts of the spill have been a fundamental part of this program.

Gulf Watch Alaska - Lingering Oil Component
The Lingering Oil component is focused on collecting and maintaining information regarding locations and concentrations of Exxon Valdez spilled oil and movement of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) through the Prince William Sound ecosystem. Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment researchers have been involved in these efforts since the spill.

Herring Condition Monitoring – Growth, diet and Proximate Analaysis of Young-of-the-Year Herring
This component is focused on evaluating the growth and body composition of juvenile herring as they enter and exit winter. We evaluate growth using RNA/DNA. We have observed that in fall herring reduce their energy allocated to somatic growth and increase their lipid content. By spring lipid reserves are usually depleted. The change in energy content of herring over winter is a measure of the winter’s severity and the ability of herring to provision themselves in fall is related to the quality of their diet. These data are being used to understand the recruitment processes for herring, an important forage species in the Gulf of Alaska.

Related Links:

Mandy Lindeberg - Pelagic Lead, Benthic, and Lingering Oil components
Auke Bay Laboratories
(907) 789-6616

John Moran – Humpback whale predation on herring
Auke Bay Laboratories
(907) 789-6014

Ron Heintz - Lingering Oil
Program Manager
Recruitment Energetics and Coastal Assessment
Auke Bay Laboratories
(907) 789-6058

Mark Carls – Lingering Oil
Auke Bay Laboratories
(907) 789-6019

Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries
Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute
17109 Pt Lena Loop Rd
Juneau AK 99801

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