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Project Information

Title: LTM Program – Monitoring long-term changes in forage fish distribution, abundance, and body condition in PWS

Project Year and Number: 2017: 17120114-C

Other Fiscal Years and Numbers for this Project: None

Principal Investigator (PI): Mayumi Arimitsu

Assisting Personnel: None

Research Location:

Restoration Category:

Injured Resources Addressed: Not Specified

Abstract: INTEGRATED PREDATOR-PREY SURVEYS 2017-2021: HUMPBACK WHALES, MARINE BIRDS, FORAGE FISH Under the next five year monitoring program, we are proposing to integrate predator-prey survey efforts by combining monitoring work from three of the Prince William Sound (PWS) Pelagic Component projects and collaborating with the Herring Research and Monitoring program. We propose to combine the humpback whale, marine bird and forage fish (including euphausiids) projects into a single, integrated predator-prey survey. The integrated survey would be conducted during the fall, providing insight into predator-prey interactions at a crucial time when forage fish energy is maximized while marine birds and humpback whales are provisioning for the upcoming winter. In addition, the survey would estimate the availability, including species composition, density, and depth distribution of prey near seasonally predictable predator aggregations in PWS. The survey would include concurrent habitat and nutrient measurements in conjunction with acoustic measurements of nekton biomass and predator density. A midwater trawl (max depth ~ 100 m) will be used to sample acoustic sign and collect samples of forage fish for further analysis (e.g., diet, energy). Marine bird observations will be conducted concurrent with acoustic transects and humpback whale distribution and abundance will be assessed at the same time and area from a smaller vessel. The simultaneous surveys will reduce vessel cost for the three projects while combining expertise with spatial and temporal consistency, allowing a more comprehensive understanding of the pelagic ecosystem. In addition to a planned research cruise in September/October, the proposed approach may also allow for in-kind contributions from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for vessel charter and an additional survey in March, when humpback whales are returning from their migrations to feed and when we can assess the winter severity on forage fish. The NOAA funds will be applied for and awarded on an annual basis, and a March NOAA cruise, if awarded, would be an added value to the GWA Pelagic monitoring program.

OTHER FORAGE FISH MONITORING ACTIVITIES Although a large portion of the forage fish monitoring effort moving forward will go towards integrated predator-prey surveys, we will also continue to support other long-term forage fish studies in the spill-affected area in spring/summer. To that end, the GWA forage fish monitoring project will provide in-kind technical and analytical support for the Herring Research and Monitoring (HRM) program June aerial surveys for age-1 herring and other forage fish schools index. In addition, we are actively seeking additional outside funds to support a dedicated validation effort to test remote sensing and aerial photography as a means to validate, quantify and reduce observer bias in the future. The forage fish monitoring program will also team up with Scott Hatch (Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation [ISRC]) in support of the long-term seabird diet monitoring effort at Middleton Island that will occur annually in April-August.


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Proposal: View PDF (858 KB)

Funding Recommendations: View

Funding Detail For: 2017

Quarterly Project Tasks For: 2017

Annual Report: 2017: Due 09/01/2017

Final Report: Draft Final Report Due 4/15/18

Publications from this Project: None Available