"Biomass in the other two rotational areas, Delmarva and Hudson Canyon, increased in 2009," Hart said. "Hudson Canyon was closed to start its second rotational cycle in 2008, and the 2009 survey showed the biomass in that area was increasing rapidly. Delmarva was reopened to fishing in 2009 after being closed in 2007, but nonetheless showed an increase in biomass, due to the growth of a strong year class first observed in the 2008 survey."
Hart was surprised by the numbers of small ocean quahogs observed in one area on Georges Bank. "We had over 10,000 per tow in several locations, which I have never seen in my ten years doing the survey. We usually see just a few. Ocean quahogs can live 200 years or longer, so it is important to understand their reproductive cycle."
In collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the 2009 survey employed the Habitat Mapping Camera System (HabCam), a towed underwater camera system also used in the 2007 and 2008 surveys. In a combined survey of sea scallops and other benthic organisms, the towed camera and dredge were deployed at a number of the same sites to ground truth the dredge catches and obtain physical samples to compare with the high resolution digital photographs.
"Collaboration between NEFSC and WHOI scientists on the scallop survey has been ongoing for more than three years, with over 100 paired dredge/photographic tows completed," said Hart. "The dredge and HabCam provide different but complementary views of the bottom, giving us much more information from different perspectives, which is very helpful. It is the best possible match of traditional methods with advanced technology, and how we envision the future."
The 2009 survey was conducted in three legs, the last ending July 3, aboard the UNOLS (University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System) research vessel HUGH SHARP, a 146-foot
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service