Scientists use 3-D data across coastal seascapes to study climate effects on young fish

July 8th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 8 (ANI): A team of scientists, from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in the US, has integrated three-dimensional (3-D) data across coastal seascapes to study climate effects on young fish.

The scientists are viewing real-time underwater images and environmental data to try to figure out what lives in the two areas of ocean off the coasts of northern New Jersey and Long Island, New York, and how climate change is affecting marine life, especially very young fish.

According to John Manderson, a fishery biologist with NOAAs Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), These areas are much more dynamic than terrestrial landscapes and not what we are used to thinking about the ocean.

People look at the ocean floor as the habitat, but dont 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, he explained.

It is a seascape, a moving 3-D environment, he added.

Manderson and colleagues in the NEFSCs 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.

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.

Working in depths up to 60 meters (about 100 feet), the research team use the various real-time data they receive from above and below the surface to develop a track line or sampling route of the ocean floor within their study areas.

They tow a small video camera sled, stop at stations along the track to sample from the surface to the seafloor with a CTD (conductivity, temperature, density) recorder, and collect other environmental data. A beam trawl is used to collect specimens and to groundtruth the video imagery.

Tissue and diet samples are collected from the animals and brought back to the laboratory.

Were using a variety of real and near real-time data that integrate information and present a three-dimensional view of the environment, said Manderson.

Were able to move with a moving ocean, sampling with advanced technology and seeing it as it happens so we can adjust our sampling strategies as necessary. It is exciting to think of the possibilities, he added. (ANI)

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