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Scientists integrate data in three dimensions to study climate effects on young fish
Date:7/7/2008

From the surface, the two areas of ocean off the coasts of northern New Jersey and Long Island, New York look the same. But to NOAA scientists, the four-square-mile patches could not be more different as they view real-time underwater images and environmental data to try to figure out what lives there and how climate change is affecting marine life, especially very young fish.

"These areas are much more dynamic than terrestrial landscapes and not what we are used to thinking about the ocean," said John Manderson, a fishery biologist with NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) at the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sandy Hook, N.J. "People look at the ocean floor as the habitat, but don't think about the connection with the water column above it and how ocean fronts, like atmospheric weather, move through to create a constantly changing environment that affects fish and other marine life. It is a seascape, a moving 3-D environment."

Manderson and colleagues in the NEFSC's Behavioral Ecology Branch recently completed their first two-week cruise to the study area for the 2008 Ecology of Coastal Ocean Seascapes (ECOS) project. Another two-week cruise will be conducted in July, a third in September. There were some scientific surprises on the first cruise, and an unexpected event. On June 9, near the end of the first cruise, they rescued three teenagers from a swamped boat (see rescue story at end of article).

The goal of ECOS is to view the two seascapes in an integrated way using real-time data, focusing on the distribution and condition of early life stages of fishes, and develop models to aid fisheries research and management. For example, the models could ultimately be used to support fisheries managers to make informed decisions regarding the importance of habitat type for managed fish species, and to help answer questions about effects of climate change on the success of fish stocks.

One ECOS st
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Contact: Shelley Dawicki
shelley.dawicki@noaa.gov
508-495-2378
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Source:Eurekalert

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