Efforts by federal partners in response the bloom

Often our federal partners keep quiet about their efforts, but I would like to recognize some of the efforts they have been spearheading during the summer bloom.  Today I will concentrate on some of the efforts of our great partners NOAA fishery partners scientists who often quietly do great work without seeking any recognition of their efforts.

The Ecosystems Processes Division EPD at NOAAs North East Fisheries Science Center has been monitoring the status of the phytoplankton bloom and collaborating with other MARACOOS partners to assess the regional impacts of the bloom.  Two of EPDs field based research programs, ECOS and ECOMON, sample biological communities and features of the bottom and water column to gain a better understanding of the effects of ecosystem processes including phytoplankton blooms on fish and invertebrates.

Figure 1. ECOMON performs regional scale process based surveys in the region focused on water column characteristics and plankton

These programs have been designed to provide the best scientific information for the management of the ecosystem and its constituent fish and invertebrates.  These two programs are full partners in IOOS, sharing their data with the observatory and using remote sensing data in their operations in near and near real time.  The ecosystem monitoring program ECOMON performs broad scale synoptic surveys of the Mid Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Maine (http://nefsc.wordpress.com/category/ecosystem-monitoring-cruise/).   ECOMON, which grew out of MARMAP, has collected a time series of synoptic measurements of physics, phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish larvae since 1977.  Following the passage of hurricane Irene, ECOMON is scheduled to perform a survey that will include measurements of oxygen that is designed to assess the status of the regional ecosystem following the bloom and the hurricane Irene. Data from the ECOMON research ship will be passed in near real time to modelers working with MARACOOS.

The ecology of coastal ocean seascapes program, ECOS, performs finer scale adaptive surveys of ecosystem processes using advanced technology, smaller, faster, boats, and with survey designs informed by real and near real time data an models form ECOMON and MARACOOS.  Since 2004 ECOS performed holistic ecosystem surveys of the bottom and water column in the vicinity of two seascapes north and south of the mouth of the Hudson Raritan River estuary.

Figure 2. ECOS performed fine scale surveys of water column properties including oxygen and plankton during the summer bloom in the two seascapes outside the mouth of the Hudson Raritan River Estuary

The seascape south of sandy hook is located in a region that has experienced strong phytoplankton blooms and low dissolved oxygen in the past. On August 10, 11 & 16, 17 and during the bloom, ECOS performed surveys of the seascapes for water column characteristics including dissolved oxygen as well as plankton, and fish with fishery hydro-acoustics.

Figure 3. ECOS stations for plankton nets on August 17, 2011 during the bloom overlaid on MARACOOS the NYHOPS forecast model.

Figure 4. Vertical profile of water column properties taken at the Net station closest to the New Jersey shore in Figure 3.

The minimum dissolved oxygen measured during August 16 and 17 surveys seascapes was 4.2 mg/l and above critical levels.  We are still processes physical measurements, plankton and fisheries hydroacoustic data from those surveys.

Figure 5. Acoustic measurements of current (top) and backscatter from particles to fish (bottom) at the Net station closest to New Jersey shoreline in Figure 3.

ECOS also intends continue to coordinate adaptive monitoring activities with MARACOOS partners following the passage of Irene. These activities may include video monitoring of the bottom that can be compared with archived data to assess the impacts of the bloom (http://ecologyofcoastaloceanseascapes.blogspot.com/2010/08/methods-for-sampling-bottom-fish-and.html; http://ecologyofcoastaloceanseascapes.blogspot.com/2010/08/bottom-fish-invertebrate-communities-in.html).

Figure 6. Recent stations sampled in the region samples on NEFSC bottom trawl surveys that can be used to analyze the impacts of the bloom.

Figure 7. Images of the seafloor with seas scallops taken with HABCAM on the Scallop surveys of the mid Atlantic Bight.

In addition to the ECOS and ECOMON programs, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed its annual survey of scallops and other bottom dwelling animal throughout the MAB in late July.  NEFSC is also scheduled to begin its autumn bottom trawl survey of fish and invertebrates in late September. These two long term and broad scale surveys contain important historical information about abundance patterns of fish and shellfish populations that NOAA and other MARACOOS partners will use to assess the impacts of the bloom and other important ecosystem processes in the region. A partial list of ongoing NOAA NEFSC surveys of the coastal ocean can be found here


So while we ride out the approach of Irene, I raise a toast to the hard working NOAA partners!  oscar

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