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MESA: Forage Species

ABL Home
Marine Ecology & Stock Assessment
Marine Ecology
Forage Species:
Common & Uncommon Species
Hydroacoustic Surveys
Hydroacoustic Technical Details
Related Research
Stock Assessment
Surveys & Field Studies
Program Activities:
Data Sets
Longline Survey Data
Reports & Activities
Left photo:, Myctophids (lampfish).
Right photo: Pacific sandfish & pink shrimp.
Map of southeast Alaska with graph of forage species by percent frequency of occurance.
(Click for full size images)

Forage species include many vertebrate and invertebrate species that provide food for marine fish, mammals, and birds. These forage species play a vital role in the ecological health of the oceans by supplying nutritional energy to marine predators. This group of species varies greatly in their life history, biology, and ecology, which make them very difficult to study. In southeastern Alaska, over 100 forage species were identified using hydroacoustics, trawls, longlines, seines, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Hydroacoustics, which use sound waves to detect fish, have been used to enumerate forage species throughout the water column. Hydroacoustics produces an echogram (an acoustic picture) in which dense layers of forage species are detected. Pelagic trawls are then conducted to sample fish from within the dense layers, identify species seen in the echogram, and collect biological data. Longlines are used to collect bottom-dwelling species while seines and ROVs are used to survey close to shore.

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) and walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) are two common forage species sampled in our surveys, while bigmouth manefish (Caristius macropus) and longfin dragonfish (Tactostoma macropus) are sampled infrequently. Other forage species include invertebrates, such as shrimp, squid, and jellyfish.

Deep water acoustic echogram.

Dave Csepp
Auke Bay Laboratories
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute
17109 Pt Lena Loop Rd
Juneau AK 99801


Featured Research, Publications, Posters, Reports, and Activities

  • CSEPP, D. J., D. C. HONEYFIELD, J. J. VOLLENWEIDER, and J. WOMBLE. 2017. Estuarine distribution, nutritional and thiaminase content of eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus) in Southeast Alaska, with implications for Steller sea lions, U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-356, 56 p.  Online.
  • Humpback Whale Foraging Structures Winter Schooling Behavior of Pacific Herring
    Conference:  Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2012
    (2012 poster, .pdf, 1.85 MB)   Online.


See the publications and poster databases for additional listings.


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