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Recruitment Processes Program

Spring Field Season:  Multidisciplinary Sea-Ice Cruise, Ichthyoplankton Surveys

Recruitment Processes/EcoFOCI (Ecosystems-Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations) finished its spring field season with 304 man-days at sea. Highlights included an EcoFOCI- led multidisciplinary sea-ice cruise on the University of Washington’s (UW) Thomas G. Thompson (chief scientist Nancy Kachel (FOCI-PMEL)), the Bering Sea spring ichthyoplankton cruise on the NOAA ship Miller Freeman (chief scientist Janet Duffy-Anderson), the late May spring ichthyoplankton survey on the Miller Freeman (chief scientist Annette Dougherty), and the summer Bering Sea ichthyoplankton survey on Hokkaido University’s Oshoro Maru (AFSC chief scientist Steve Porter).

The sea-ice cruise (two legs) was of particular interest because it involved a collaboration between EcoFOCI, NMML, and MACE (participating collaboratively on the Miller Freeman, see MACE program report above) with 25 scientists from five different agency groups, three universities, and five countries, as well as two Native Americans, a Russian photographer, photographers and reporters from the Seattle Times, and a filmmaker. The purpose of the cruise was to observe the ice-edge ecosystem of the eastern Bering Sea. Sampling targeted the distribution of physical, biological, and chemical properties of the water column across the zone of the ice-edge and within the ice floes, with special attention to phytoplankton blooms and the zooplankton community. The marine mammal component tagged ribbon seas with ARGOS transmitters to track movements, and MACE personnel used hydro-acoustics to search for concentrations of fish under the ice edge. (Read more about sea-ice research on the Seattle Times Web site)*

Scientists from the EcoFOCI Program conducted a spring zooplankton and ichthyoplankton survey aboard the Miller Freeman in the southeastern Bering Sea near Unimak Island. This area is a known spawning ground for walleye pollock, northern rocksole, Greenland halibut, and Alaska plaice. The survey provides data on the abundance, distribution, and assemblage structure of the eggs and larvae of these fishes in spring. Data are also used to identify transport pathways for newly spawned eggs and larvae.

Stations map, see caption
Figure 1.  Stations occupied during cruise MF06-06, 9-16 May 2006.

Zooplankton are also sampled at each station, and data are used to describe associated zooplankton diversity and abundance over the slope and shelf. The cruise was conducted 9 - 19 May, and included Bering Canyon and the adjacent continental shelf (Fig. 1 above). Survey operations were conducted 24 hours per day. Satellite-tracked drifters were released in the Unimak Island vicinity to study currents at depth (40 m). Depth discrete ichthyoplankton sampling was accomplished through a series of tows made with the Multiple Opening and Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System (MOCNESS) to provide information on depth-specific distribution of larval fishes. Data on physical characteristics of the water column were also collected.

By Kevin Bailey

U.S.-Polish Plankton Sorting and Identification Center Advisory Committee Meeting

The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Advisory Committee of the U.S.-Polish Plankton Sorting and Identification Center (Zaklad Sortowania i Oznaczania Plantou: ZSIOP) was hosted by the Recruitment Processes Program and held at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle on 23-26 May 2006.

Jim Coe, Center Deputy Director, provided the welcoming address. Participating in the discussions on the U.S side were Jeff Napp and Ann Matarese (AFSC), Elizabeth Clarke (Northwest Fisheries Science Center), Ken Sherman and Jon Hare (Northeast Fisheries Science Center), Joanne Lyczowski-Shultz (Southeast Fisheries Science Center), and Frank Hernandez (Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory). The Polish members of the Advisory Committee included: Rafel Geremek (Morski Institut Rybacki, Gdynia); Leonard Ejsymont and Wanda Kalandyk (ZSIOP, Szczecin).

The Advisory Committee met to review the 2005-06 work and to determine whether it was in conformance with the Joint Studies Agreement. The committee planned the work for the 2006-07 agreement and discussed ZSIOP operations, funding, training, sorting priorities, data exchange, status of joint research and reports, and new initiatives.

By Kevin Bailey

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