Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring

Research conducted the Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring project focuses on the study of juvenile salmon in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem.

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Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring Survey.

Research conducted in the Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring project focuses on the study of juvenile salmon in the coastal waters of the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem. This Auke Bay Laboratories project addresses key objectives of the NOAA Fisheries Strategic Plan and international science programs including the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the Pacific Salmon Commission Northern Fund. Ecosystem metrics from SECM research are used to develop indexes and stock assessments for NOAA's annual Ecosystem Consideration Report.

Primary Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring Goals

  • Understand the early marine ecology and distribution of juvenile salmon and associated species
  • Build time series of oceanographic and ecological indices for the coastal waters of Southeast Alaska
  • Identify factors affecting salmon productivity (e.g., climate change, prey, abundance, and predators)
  • Produce data sets to evaluate hatchery and wild stock interactions, and forecast regional adult salmon returns

Southeast Alaska Coastal Monitoring research was initiated in the spring of 1997, just prior to the onset of a strong El Niño event, and has continued annually. SECM sampling occurs around Icy Strait (58°N, 136°W) in the northern region and have been sustained for 20 years. This is a principal seaward migration corridor for salmon both juveniles and returning adults.

Researchers have compiled a multi-year time series of biophysical data associated with juvenile salmon culled from monthly sampling intervals in May, June, July, and August. Juvenile salmon and ecologically-related species are sampled with a surface trawl and associated oceanographic measurements are taken.

Time Series Data

  • Temperature and salinity profiles
  • Surface nutrients and chlorophyll
  • Zooplankton (upper 20-m and integrated)
  • Size, abundance, and origin of salmon
  • Potential predators of juvenile salmon
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Interannual variability of late spring and summer temperatures in the upper 20-m water column of Icy Strait, 1997-2016.

Some of these biophysical data are being used to forecast pink salmon returns to Southeast Alaska and to evaluate recent trends in commercial salmon harvest and ocean survival within the region. These analyses also explore the impact of large-scale, climate-driven processes on salmon year-class strength.