Saturday, April 7, 2018

Basking Sharks Aggregations - North America Northeast Coast

Groups of basking sharks, ranging from as few as 30 to nearly 1,400 animals, have been observed aggregating in waters from Long Island to Nova Scotia.

Individual basking shark sightings are fairly common, but large groups are not, according to NOAA Fisheries.

In a recent study reported in the Journal of Fish Biology, researchers analyzed aggregations of basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) recorded off the northeastern United States coast to learn more about the phenomenon.

During decades of aerial surveys for right whales, large basking shark aggregation events were recorded and photographed on several occasions.

Comparing this information with that collected in a number of satellite and oceanographic databases and by the NEFSC’s ecosystem monitoring (EcoMon) cruises in the same region, researchers obtained more insight into this behavior.

The researchers found the aggregations occurred in summer and fall when sea surface temperatures ranged between 55 and 75 degrees F (13 to 24 degrees C). In the largest event, data were available to indicate there was a high concentration of zooplankton prey present.

Ten large aggregations of basking sharks were identified between June 1980 and November 2013, ranging from 36 to at least 1,398 animals within an 11.5-mile (18.5-kilometer) radius of the central point in the aggregation.

Data on breaching, circular swimming movements, and/or apparent feeding behavior were recorded in seven of the ten largest aggregations.

The largest aggregation ever recorded on the aerial survey was at least 1,398 animals photographed on November 5, 2013 in southern New England waters.

Given the apparent presence of juveniles and an abundance of zooplankton on the continental shelf at the time of the event, the study authors say it is likely foraging played a role in the formation of that aggregation.

The study also suggests that the animals may be aggregating to draft off each other for more efficient feeding given the immense drag from having their mouths open.

Basking Shark Facts

Basking sharks are highly migratory, slow-moving fish. They are often sighted close to the surface with their large mouths open to filter zooplankton from seawater.

Reaching 32 feet or more in length and weighing more than five tons, the basking shark is the world's second largest fish. The whale shark, a close relative, is larger.

Basking sharks, whale sharks, and megamouth sharks are the only shark species that feed on plankton.

For more information, visit:

source: NOAA Fish News

Saturday, March 3, 2018

NOAA Mariners Jobs

In February, 2018, NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations announced job openings for people qualified as wage mariners as able-bodied seamen, fishermen, and general vessel assistants.

NOAA's Ships provide a wide range of mission support for the agency, from collecting data used to understanding weather to charting to monitoring fishery stocks, corals, and marine mammals.

The ships are operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO). The vessels are run by a combination of NOAA commissioned officers and specially skilled civilians.

The officers are part of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. Civilians include licensed masters, mates and engineers, and unlicensed members of the engine, steward, and deck departments.

For more information, visit the following links:

source: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Saturday, November 25, 2017

NOAA Ribbed Mussel Urban Water Quality Study

ribbed mussels

Ribbed mussels can remove nitrogen and other excess nutrients from an urban estuary and could help improve water quality in other urban and coastal locations, according to a study in New York City’s Bronx River.

The findings, published in Environmental Science and Technology, are part of long-term efforts to improve water quality in the Bronx River Estuary.

Researchers at NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut began the two-year pilot project in June 2011.

They used a 20 x 20-foot raft with mussel growing lines hanging below as their field location in an industrial area near Hunt’s Point in the South Bronx, not far from a sewage treatment plant.

The waters were closed to shellfish harvesting because of bacterial contamination. Scientists monitored the condition of the ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) and the water quality over time to see how each responded.

“Ribbed mussels live in estuarine habitats and can filter bacteria, microalgae, nutrients and contaminants from the water,” said Julie Rose, a research ecologist at the Milford Laboratory, part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and co-author of the study. “They are native to the East Coast so there are no concerns about invasive species disturbing the ecosystem, and they are efficient at filtering a variety of particles from the water. Ribbed mussels are not sold commercially, so whatever they eat will not be eaten by humans.”

Farming and harvesting shellfish to remove nitrogen and other excess nutrients from rivers, estuaries and coastal waters is known as nutrient bioextraction, or bioharvesting.

Mussels and other shellfish are filter feeders, and as the organisms grow, they take up or assimilate nutrients in algae and other microorganisms filtered from the surrounding waters.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients occur naturally in the environment and are needed by plants and animals to grow, but too much of any of them is harmful.

Excess amounts from human activities often end up in rivers, streams and coastal environments, causing algal blooms, loss of sea grass and low oxygen levels in the water, which can kill large numbers of fish and other organisms.

Researchers found that the Bronx River mussels were generally healthy, and their tissues had high amounts of a local nitrogen isotope, indicating that they removed nitrogen from local waters.

They also had lower amounts of trace metals and organic contaminants than blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) collected from the seafloor nearby.

An estimated 138 pounds of nitrogen was removed from the river when the animals were harvested.

The researchers estimate that a fully populated 20 x 20 foot mussel raft similar to the one used in this study would clean an average of three million gallons of water and remove about 350 pounds of particulate matter, like dust and soot, daily.

The Bronx study is the first to examine the use of ribbed mussels for nutrient bioextraction in a highly urbanized estuarine environment.

source: Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2017 North Carolina Coastal Conference

2017 North Carolina Coastal Conference
April 4 - 5, 2017
McKimmon Center
Raleigh, NC

North Carolina Sea Grant will host North Carolina’s Coastal Conference, April 4 - 5, 2017, at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 2017 Coastal Conference will energize partnerships to develop solutions that can benefit the state’s coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems.

“Many communities from central North Carolina to the coast found their resilience tested in 2016,” notes Susan White, executive director of North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina system. “They continue to need information and resources to respond to, recover from and anticipate both urgent and long-term coastal challenges.”

Coastal Conference sessions will include:

weather, storms and climate;

community and ecosystem health;

fisheries and aquaculture; and

planning and economics.

Experts from the fields of economics, transportation, energy, environment, industry, and health will lead interdisciplinary sessions designed to bring together diverse perspectives.

The program includes a networking reception on April 4 at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center in Raleigh.

Registration and other details are available at

source: North Carolina Sea Grant

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What is Domoic Acid?

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin related to a “bloom” of certain single-celled algae.

Fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of domoic acid in their tissue, leading to illness if consumed by humans.

During late 2015 through early 2016, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are working with the fishing community to collect crab samples from the northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated.

For more information, visit

source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Friday, December 2, 2016

2017 Maine - New Hampshire Beaches Conference

The Beaches Conference 2017 (Maine - New Hampshire)
July 14, 2017
Wells High School, Wells, ME

The Beaches Conference 2017 will be held July 14, 2017 at Wells High School in Wells, Maine. Participant registration will begin in May.

The Beaches Conference works to provide continuing opportunities for exchange of the most current information among beach and coastal stakeholders with diverse interests, and to present the findings from Maine and New Hampshire beach monitoring programs.

Conference Themes:

Management approaches in our coastal habitats
Implementing successful projects in beach communities
Preparing for and adapting to our future
The nature, and culture of our beaches
Monitoring, research, and emerging issues on the coast
Respecting stakeholder needs and values
Coastal development and regulation

The Beaches Conference Steering Committee includes:
Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Maine Coastal Program
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Maine Geological Survey
Maine Healthy Beach Volunteers
Maine Sea Grant
New Hampshire Sea Grant
Rockingham Planning Commission
Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission
Town of Damariscotta
Town of Kennebunkport
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Walsh Engineering
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

For more information, visit:

source: Maine Sea Grant

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Puget Sound Marine Waters Report 2015

A recent report by the Northwest Fisheries Science Center provides a comprehensive look at marine conditions in Puget Sound in 2015.

The report was produced for the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program's Marine Waters Workgroup.

The Puget Sound Marine Waters 2015 Overview can be found at: