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2019 California Current Ecosystem Survey

June 14, 2019

The 2019 California Current Ecosystem Survey will be conducted from June 13 through September 9, 2019.

The survey area will span from the northern extent of Vancouver Island, Canada, to the U.S.- Mexico border. The primary objectives are to estimate the distributions and abundances of Coastal Pelagic Species, particularly the northern and central sub-populations of Northern Anchovy, the northern subpopulation of Pacific Sardine, Jack Mackerel, Pacific Mackerel, Pacific Herring, their prey, and their biotic and abiotic environments in the California Current Ecosystem. Secondary objectives are to investigate the distributions and abundances of Pacific Whiting, krill, and mesopelagic fishes.

Additionally, this survey will sample closer to shore and farther offshore than previous years’ surveys. Fisheries Resources Division staff will coordinate sampling with industry vessels nearshore off WA, OR, and Southern California, and with unmanned surface vehicles nearshore off WA, OR, and northern California, and offshore between central Oregon and Pt. Conception, southern California. The aim of this additional coverage is to sample the target species in areas too shallow for the NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker to safely navigate and in offshore areas that have not been surveyed routinely in the past.

September 8, 2019

The team slowly but surely completed the sampling of transects in the Southern California Bight, bringing Leg 4 of the 80-day survey to a close. Lasker sampled the penultimate transect near La Jolla, then trawled three times between Del Mar and Point Loma. These catches further confirmed the overwhelming predominance of northern anchovy observed off Central and Southern California. On September 8, Lasker finished the last transect, near San Diego Bay, and headed to port.

Chart displaying schools of northern anchovy at La Jolla Canyon.

Schools of northern anchovy at La Jolla Canyon.

The objectives of this survey were achieved. The trawl catches indicate that herring dominated the forage fish assemblage off Vancouver Island and Washington; mackerels with some sardine were predominant off Oregon and Northern California; and anchovy dominated off Central and Southern California, remarkably similar to catch distributions in 2018 (see figures below and in the 2018 report).

Two charts displaying Principal Component Analysis of the trawl catches.

Spot the differences: Principal Component Analysis of the trawl catches [log (weight +1)] from the 2018 and 2019 CPS surveys.

In 2019, the trawls captured more than 23 t of Coastal Pelagic Species (~70% anchovy), an increase of 120% compared to that from 2018. These samples yielded measures of fish lengths, weights, and maturities, and ~3500 pairs of otoliths. CUFES collected 1836 samples, each representing 5-nmi distances along ~9100 nmi of ship track.

Together with offshore and nearshore sampling from Saildrones, and nearshore sampling from two fishing vessels, the 2019 California Current Ecosystem Survey will provide, inarguably, the most comprehensive depiction of the Coastal Pelagic Species community off the West Coast of the United States.

September 5, 2019

On September 2, FSV Reuben Lasker surveyed the inshore sections of transects 6, 7, and 8. Acoustic backscatter was moderate to high and eggs were relatively low. The night’s trawls were executed in the inshore portion of transects 6 and 7, and resulted in a catch dominated by northern anchovy but sprinkled with other Coastal Pelagic Species. The Lasker completed transects 6 and 7 the following day. Three trawls were conducted that night, resulting again in a mixture of Coastal Pelagic Species dominated by northern anchovy.

Three photos displaying a catch of CPS being hauled into the deck of Lasker, Pacific sardine arranged for biological sampling, and Survey Technician, Jaclyn Mazella, extracting otoliths from Northern anchovy.

From left to right: a catch of CPS being hauled into the deck of Lasker, Pacific sardine arranged for biological sampling, and Survey Technician, Jaclyn Mazella, extracting otoliths from Northern anchovy. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

September 3, 2019

The FSV Reuben Lasker continues along Leg 4 in the 2019 Summer CCES Survey. From Tuesday, August 27, through Sunday, September 1, scientists made their way south from transect 16 through transect 8, from Point Conception to Santa Catalina Island.

Sunrise over Catalina Island.

Sunrise over Catalina Island. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

On Tuesday, offshore acoustic backscatter and eggs were relatively low compared to more inshore locations. Trawls that night resulted in low catches of anchovy and jack and pacific mackerels. Lasker headed inshore on Wednesday, navigating between Santa Cruz and San Miguel Island, and caught a basket of anchovy on the first trawl. The second trawl of the night was moved due to the presence of marine mammals. By Thursday, August 29, both acoustic backscatter and eggs were relatively low when compared to samples from previous legs.

The night’s trawls were executed offshore and resulted in almost exclusively northern anchovy. Lasker headed inshore on Friday, where the first trawl of the night caught two baskets of anchovy. On Saturday, acoustic backscatter offshore of transects 11 and 10 was moderate to high and eggs were relatively low when compared to samples from previous legs. The night’s trawls were executed in the inshore portion of transects 10 and 9, and resulted in almost exclusively northern anchovy. On Sunday, Lasker headed offshore, completing transect 9 and about half of transect 8. The first trawl of the night, conducted west of Santa Catalina Island, caught less than a basket of northern anchovy and jack mackerel.

Charts displaying preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

Preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

August 27, 2019

On August 25, scientists aboard the FSV Reuben Lasker surveyed transect 18 and part of the offshore section of transect 17, just west of Point Conception. That night the scientists fished offshore, resulting in less than one kg of young-of-the-year jack and pacific mackerels, and few anchovies. On August 26, scientists concentrated their sampling effort on portions of transects 15, 16, and 17 located in the Santa Barbara Channel. The first trawl of the night resulted in almost exclusively anchovy. 

Tomorrow scientists will be sampling the offshore portions of transects 15, 16, and 17, just to the west of the northern Channel Islands.

Charts displayig preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

Preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

August 23, 2019

NOAA FSV Reuben Lasker left San Diego on Thursday, August 22, for the fourth and final leg of the 2019 summer CCES survey. Lasker headed north to transect 22, 40 miles north of Point Conception. On Friday 23, Lasker deployed and instrumented the lander and it has resumed acoustic sampling.

NOAA FSV Reuben Lasker departing San Diego.

NOAA FSV Reuben Lasker departing San Diego on August 22, 2019. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

August 16, 2019

Researchers aboard Lasker continued to see large schools of anchovy well into the beginning of the week. Acoustics staff was seeing large aggregations of probable Coastal Pelagic Species inshore and crew pulled in several trawls weighing over a ton and consisting primarily of anchovy. 

One trawl on Tuesday, August 13, was particularly interesting in that it had a greater proportion of sardine (~10%) than what researchers had seen in the previous few nights. Most of the sardine captured on the central coast this survey have been in the range of about 160-190 mm and in very good condition with a lot of fat. While assessing their maturity, researchers also noticed the sardine have a trout-like body shape instead of the more common elongated body form. If they are suffering from the “school trap,” it does not seem to have affected their diet.

By Tuesday night it appeared as though the survey was reaching the southern extent of big-anchovy. Of the two trawls conducted that night, the first consisted of a much smaller catch of anchovy and a few sardines. The second had no Coastal Pelagic Species at all. Acoustics showed few signs of Coastal Pelagic Species and a few jack mackerel eggs were present in the CUFES.

A sardine caught the night of Tuesday, August 13

A sardine caught the night of Tuesday, August 13. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

The last three trawls of leg III on Thursday, August 15, consisted of smaller catches of anchovy, in the range of 1-4 baskets instead of the 1-2 tons crew had been catching earlier in the week. The only thing of note was that sardines were conspicuously absent. Crew began the ride back to San Diego immediately after the third trawl came up and are looking forward to heading home. 

Charts displaying preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

Preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

A small blue shark caught on the first trawl. The shark was released alive after a quick measurement.

A small blue shark caught on the first trawl. The shark was released alive after a quick measurement. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

August 11, 2019

After a week of trawl issues aboard Lasker, the weekend brought a series of very clean, relatively large catches of anchovy, usually with a few sardine in each tow. One trawl brought in weighed a significant 2.3 tons. While the composition of the tow was typical of what the crew had been seeing, the size of the rogue trawl was striking. As predicted, the inshore areas have had the greatest abundance.

August 9, 2018

Trawling was halted once again on Friday, August 2, due to a faulty winch. Staff ran a modified sampling pattern over the weekend to minimize lost time while waiting for the winch representative to repair the trawl. There was an additional issue when the kite entangled with a door and damaged the net, but the crew quickly switched to the spare.

 A 2.3 ton bag of anchovy caught the weekend of August 10.

A 2.3 ton bag of anchovy caught the weekend of August 10. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

With both the winch and net repaired, the survey headed north on Tuesday, August 6, to fill in the missed survey areas. After completing three trawls further north on Tuesday night, staff turned their focus to two transects they had skipped off San Francisco Bay (40 and 41). On Wednesday night, August 7, staff conducted three trawls on transect 40.

The first two trawls included large catches of anchovy, with the third including some anchovy despite some problems with the net. One more night of trawling has allowed them to resume the original trawl/survey pattern. As of the morning of August 9, Lasker has completed acoustic and trawl sampling through transect 34 and is expected to complete transects 33, 32, and 31 between Monterey and Carmel before dark.

Charts displaying preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

Preliminary, unverified spatial distributions.

August 2, 2019

Leg 3 began with technical difficulties but is now fully operational. After an 11-hour run from San Francisco to the area near Fort Bragg on the night of July 30, crew had to abort the first tow due to a malfunctioning encoder in one of the trawl winches. The crew worked on restoring the trawl for the remainder of the night and well into Wednesday, July 31.

Meanwhile, the acoustics group reported little backscatter on transect 49 and the inshore portion of extended transect 47. The biological sampling group likewise saw few eggs in the CUFES, so this was a surprise:

The second tow was a little further inshore and less fun, consisting almost completely of moon jellies. The third tow of the night also consisted primarily of jellies, with less than a basket of fish captured.

Dwight Hwang and Natasha Hunter, Leg III volunteers, did a great job processing the two large samples and are adapting to life at sea quickly. Visiting scientist, Dr. Hashim Manjebrayakath, from the Centre For Marine Living Resources and Ecology in Cochin, India, is a wizard at extracting otoliths. He simultaneously put on a clinic and helped the team work up the large anchovy catch.


The Lasker completed transect 45 the morning of August 1 and moved offshore from there to complete the remainder of extended transect 47. Both anchovy and sardine eggs were present in the CUFES on transect 45 and on the offshore transit between lines. Sardine eggs also were captured in the CUFES almost to the end of the extended transect 47. Crew surveyed transects 46, 44, and most of 43 on Friday, August 2. The first haul had a relatively large Coastal Pelagic Species catch containing sardines, jack mackerel, and Pacific mackerel. The second haul was small but contained a few jack mackerel and Pacific mackerel.

The crew of the Lasker continue to be their steady, unfailingly helpful and accommodating selves.

Volunteer, Dwight Hwang, is a gyotaku (fish rubbing/print) artist. Dwight practiced on some jack mackerel as one of his first attempts in working with California Current fishes.

Gyotaku of a jack mackeral.

Gyotaku of a jack mackeral by Dwight Hwang.

July 25, 2019

Scientists aboard the NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker pulled into San Francisco on Thursday, July 25, thus completing Leg 2 of the 2019 Summer California Current Ecosystem Survey. So far, the survey spanned an area from approximately Cape Scott, British Columbia, to Albion, CA, having sampled 75 east-west transects totaling 4124 nmi, and 84 Nordic trawls. The vessel will depart again on July 30, and resume acoustic sampling along Transect 49, which comes ashore just north of Pt. Arena.

Saildrones 1045 and 1046 continue their southward progress after recently completing transect 43 off Pt. Reyes, and are about to begin sampling their penultimate transect (35) off Santa Cruz, CA. Saildrone 1047 continues to lag behind and is currently sampling nearshore transects off Eureka, CA.

July 23, 2019

Due to foul weather, no trawl, CUFES, or UCTD sampling was conducted in association with the last long offshore line on Friday, July 19. The Lasker was forced to tack back and forth along two lines to improve the ride, and to lower the centerboard (or keel, on which the downward-facing echosounders are mounted) to minimize acoustic noise from bubbles generated by the rough seas. With improved conditions, the keel was raised and routine sampling resumed on Saturday, July 20, after which the scientists set three trawls near Eel Canyon. The usual suspects persist: mostly jack mackerel with P. mackerel and sardines present in roughly equal amounts. No squid and no anchovies for quite some time. Scientists remained impressed by the “clean” catches of mostly target species.


A 10-d average of potential sardine habitat (Zwolinski et al, 2011. Predicting habitat to optimize sampling of Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax). ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68(5), 867 –879).

After several days of rough seas, scientists aboard the Lasker got a very welcome reprieve of fair weather on Sunday, July 21, along the last two transects north of Cape Mendocino. 

The crew completed their fourth extended offshore transect on Monday, July 22, only to find nothing in their trawls, echograms, or CUFES samples. This may be a continuation from the Coastal Pelagic Species hugging along the coastline this year, however, this is also a section of coast that had relatively little biomass in the past two summer surveys. By Tuesday, July 23, the vessel came across a particularly windy spot along the coastline, making for a bumpy yet workable ride.

 Map displaying the locations of Saildrones 1045 and 1046 off Fort Bragg on Sunday, July 21. Saildrone 1047 is not visible.

Locations of Saildrones 1045 and 1046 off Fort Bragg on Sunday, July 21. Saildrone 1047 is not visible.

Potential sardine habitat – as predicted by satellite-based sea surface temperature and chlorophyll-a – is relatively close to shore and distributed between central Oregon and Point Conception in Southern California. To learn more about this habitat model or to view these maps and an animation spanning the last ~30 d, which illustrates the recent contraction of optimal sardine habitat since the start of the survey, visit https://swfscdata.nmfs.noaa.gov/AST/sardineHabitat/habitat.asp.

Saildrones 1045 and 1046 made haste with the stiff winds the Lasker experienced in the days leading up to Sunday, July 21. Both completed sampling transect 58 at Cape Mendocino and began sampling along line 51 extending offshore from Fort Bragg, about 100 nmi S of Lasker. Saildrone 1047 sampled ~5 nmi- long nearshore transects just north of Crescent City.


Saildrones 1045 and 1046 were south of the Lasker and surveying eastbound on line 51 on Tuesday, July 23, which comes ashore at Ft. Bragg. Saildrone 1047 (not shown) is sampling ~5 nmi-long nearshore transects and remains near Crescent City.

Map displaying locations of saildrones 1045 and 1046 on line 51 on Tuesday, July 23.

Saildrones 1045 and 1046 on line 51 on Tuesday, July 23.

July 17, 2019

On Monday, July 15, crew of the NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker sampled line 70 and 68 before completing the day at line 67. Monday night was a banner night for trawling. Crew set three hauls (black lines) along line 68, where many Coastal Pelagic Species echoes and eggs were observed during the day. The three tows contained jack mackerel, sardine, and P. mackerel. The third haul also had quite a few market squid. The hauls have been remarkably clean, with little bycatch, except one notable ~1 m-long blue shark which was returned to the sea. Things are working out as well as can be expected.

Map displaying locations of hauls.

The hauls have been sufficiently large that, in addition to the trawl group and their volunteers, our Teacher at Sea, Allison, and visiting scientist, Smith, are becoming proficient at extracting otoliths under the tutelage of our resident experts. Photo:

As of Tuesday, June 16, The NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker was squarely in California and making steady progress southward. The crew finished most of line 66 south of Crescent City and trawled inshore between this line and 65, where CPS eggs and echoes were observed throughout the day. The wind picked-up a bit but remained sunny and very workable. On Wednesday, June 17, the crew plans to finish lines 65, 64, and 63 before heading to Eureka, where they will launch the small boat to retrieve some parts to repair the ship’s bow thruster.

Saildrones 1045 and 1046 are southbound at 2.5-3 kn toward their third offshore transect off Klamath. Despite lagging somewhat behind yesterday, the saildrones have again caught-up with Lasker. Saildrone 1047 is sampling nearshore transects off Yachats, Oregon.

Crew were fortunate to add one of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea participants to Leg 2 at the last minute. Allison Irwin hails from West Lawn, PA, and has been a delight to have on board. She has been keeping record of her experience on the survey on the NOAA Teacher at Sea blog.

July 10, 2019

The F/V Reuben Lasker departed Newport, OR, on Sunday, July 7, to begin Leg II of the 2019 California Current Ecosystem Survey. After undertaking a short transit to the first transect less than 1 nmi south of the Newport buoy, crew resumed acoustic sampling westward along transect 83. Nearly half the line was surveyed before breaking at sunset for trawl sampling, which occurred along the inner half of the transect in 40- 60 m of water. All three of the night’s hauls contained Coastal Pelagic Species; sardine, herring, jack mackerel and market squid were present in quantities sufficiently large to occupy the trawl group, many of whom were still acclimating to working through the night. The crew continued to encounter small amounts of sardine eggs inshore and jack mackerel eggs offshore.

 New arrival donning a “Gumby” (or immersion) suit.

Fire and abandon-ship drills were performed just after lunch today, where new arrivals had the privilege of donning their “Gumby” (or immersion) suits. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

Tuesday morning, July 9, brought a stronger breeze and a light drizzle that stuck throughout the day. Despite some larger wind waves and swell, the ride remained comfortable and the sun promised to return tomorrow or soon after. By sunset, Lasker completed acoustic sampling along transects 81, 80, and 79 between Heceta Head and Dunes City. Trawling between transects 81 and 82 yielded moderate catches with a nice mix of sardines, anchovy, both mackerels, market squid, a handful of small sablefish and a young blue shark which was quickly measured and returned to the sea.

Earlier Tuesday, echoes from putative Coastal Pelagic Species schools and abundant sardine and mackerel eggs in the CUFES indicated possible Coastal Pelagic Species catch for the evening’s trawl on line 80 near Heceta Bay. Trawls later found a modest mix of Coastal Pelagic Species (mostly jack mackerel and herring, some sardine and P. mackerel, but no anchovies). Catch was light enough to allow the trawl group to complete processing before the next bag came aboard.

Crew encountered poor weather on Wednesday, July 10, with the stiffest winds of the trip so far. Nonetheless, the ship steamed along and completed most of the first extended offshore transect before turning inshore for one trawl on the way back to the next compulsory transect off Coquille Point first thing Thursday morning. Nary a Coastal Pelagic Species echo was observed along Wednesday’s transect despite several dense sardine egg samples in the CUFES and a few jack mackerel eggs offshore. By sunset, the winds had subsided as predicted.

Photos displaying various CPS catch.

Crew process various CPS catch. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

After briefly sampling a little to the south, the crew returned to Coos Bay on Thursday, July 11, to complete two adaptive lines that were not sampled the day prior. That night, they trawled between 100-200 m depth in an area where some backscatter from Coastal Pelagic Species were observed along with moderate densities of sardine and jack mackerel eggs in CUFES. On Friday, July 12, the crew will transit south and begin sampling along transects 74 then 73.

Along transect 81, Lasker rendezvoused with Saildrones 1045 and 1046. The crew will now coordinate offshore sampling with these two unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). Saildrones 1045 and 1046 will sample as many as nine 100 nmi-long extensions of compulsory transects spaced ~80 nmi-apart between approximately Heceta Head (off OR) and Point Conception in southern CA. Likewise, Lasker will be sampling eight interleaved transects similarly spaced 80 nmi-apart spanning the same area. The two USVs completed their first and second transects along 81 and 73 by Wednesday, July 10. By Thursday Saildrones 1045 and 1046 had continued their transit south at ~1-2 kn to the second 100 nmi-long offshore transect. They should be sampling somewhat coincident with Lasker along transect 73, which is nice!

July 1, 2019


 Photo of the catch, mostly sardine with herring, anchovy, jack mackerel, Pacific mackerel, and squid.

The first two catches on line 92 included mostly sardine with herring, anchovy, jack mackerel, Pacific mackerel, and squid. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

On the night of Thursday, June 27, crew trawled on line 94, just north of Columbia River, and the three catches included: 1) mostly market squid with a few anchovy, jack mackerel, and herring; 2) market squid; and 3) a few anchovy. The following day, crew finished line 93 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, completed line 92 off Seaside, and ran the first third of line 91 off Hug Peak. They broke transect early on Friday night to trawl close to shore (~50-m depth), north of Tillamook Rock, where there were sardine eggs.  That night, the crew caught satisfyingly large, mixed bags of Coastal Pelagic Species with the first two sets. The third catch was mostly anchovy and squid.


On Saturday, June 29, the crew finished line 91 off Hug Peak, and line 90 off Nehalem River. There was very little echo sign on line 90, except for one dense CPS school in about 25 m depth. During the shallow water transit between lines 90 and 89, off Cape Meares, seabirds were feeding, and CUFES sampled a few sardine, anchovy and jack mackerel eggs. On Sunday, June 30, crew ran lines 89, 88, and half of 87. Dodging gear floats, they completed three trawls in ~50 m depth, off Cape Meares. Catches included herring, anchovy, ~14-17 and ~24-27 cm sardine, and mackerels. Sorters diligently processed each catch and logged the data before the next catch.

That night, the three nearshore trawls again sampled most or all of the target species. Monday, July 1, abundant seabirds preyed upon near-surface Coastal Pelagic Species schools, nearshore. Calm weather and “two bigs” (Chief Engineer’s term for large generators running in tandem) were conducive to finishing lines 87, 86, and 85 before sunset. Catches this year in the nearshore-Oregon area have so far varied from mostly Pacific mackerel to mostly herring to mostly jack mackerel.

Image of Cape Meares near Tillamook Bay, Oregon.

Cape Meares near Tillamook Bay, Oregon. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

Over the weekend, those aboard F/V Lisa Marie suffered gooey catches and inclement weather. From Friday, June 28, through Sunday, June 30, crew aboard the F/V Lisa Marie made six successful sets over lines 159-137. While some of the sets brought in mostly market squid, and lesser quantities of herring, sandlance, jack mackerel and others, most of the sets primarily contained jellyfish and ctenophores. Two attempted sets were dumped when crew observed nothing but jellyfish. By July 1, F/V Lisa Mariefinished the nearshore lines to the CA-OR border and then headed northwards to Westport. The ride was reportedly uncomfortable, but the prospect of being in Westport for the July 4th holiday tempered the tempest.

This week, the nearshore Saildrone dealt with varied, mostly low wind speeds. On Friday, June 29, a 14 kn wind powered SD1047 to a speed of ~2.4 kn, allowing it to complete line 200. However, the wind decreased again and the Saildrone spent some time idle before picking up again the following day. An 11 kn wind powered SD1047 to a speed of ~2.2 kn on Saturday, June 29, allowing it to complete line 199. As of July 1, an ephemeral 10+ kn wind nudged SD1047 down the coast at ~2.2 kn, where she was approaching Willapa Bay, WA. 

Meanwhile, SD1045 and SD1046 sailed from Alameda, CA, to begin sampling offshore transects when Lasker approaches Heceta Head, during Leg II. The offshore saildrones had passed Eureka by July 1. 

June 28, 2019


 Three photos, one ofmyctophids, one of market squid, and a larger image of a sunset.

The trawl group sorted myctophids (upper left) from the catches of mostly market squid (lower left). Calmer conditions on June 24 afforded more comfortable working conditions with whale sightings and a picturesque sunset. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

On June 24, after three days with little sign of Coastal Pelagic Species, Lasker finished line 100, near the Quinault Reservation. The two catches the night prior included mostly myctophids and market squid. On June 25, staff sampled line 99, off Yellow Bluff, and line 98, near Oyhut. Again, there was not much CPS signal in the echograms.

Wednesday, June 26, brought some exciting finds. Following good weather, staff zipped through lines 97, 96, and half of 95, off Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay, with multiple spots with Coastal Pelagic Species echoes. That afternoon, CUFES samples showed an extremely high density of anchovy eggs obtained in one sample.

Two photos of anchovy eggs.

“Just hit the motherload,” Dave Griffith said, with as much enthusiasm as he could afford a segmented petri dish full of “perhaps the highest density of anchovy eggs obtained in one sample.” It included most stages of anchovy eggs, “the oval ones, see sta

Ship with a cloudy sunset in the background.

Fair weather near Grays Harbor and Willipa Bay eased an efficient MOB drill. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

By the end of Thursday, June 27, crew finished line 95 off Willipa Bay, line 94 (on the WA side of the Columbia River), and half of line 93 (on the OR side of the Columbia River). On the eastern third of line 94, Acoustics staff noted anchovy-like echoes and, simultaneously, the trawl group reported large numbers of anchovy eggs in CUFES. The crew broke transect early that night to return to that area, north of Astoria Canyon, to trawl.

From Monday, June 24, through Thursday, June 27, F/V Lisa Mariedid transect lines 187-160, running from Oceanside, WA, to south of Heceta Head, OR. The crew was able to complete 10 sets despite being unable to trawl where several transects ran through protected areas and marine reserves. While a couple sets were fouled by currents and a sunken cork line, the crew landed a great deal of herring and varied amounts of anchovy, sardine, market squid, and whitebait smelt.

After completion of the lines on June 25, and with a couple hours before sunset, staff ran Greg Shaughnessy ashore at Westport. During the drop off, staff also picked up echosounder data from Lisa Marie, that owner, Ricky Blair, dropped off days prior. Greg had also arranged to provide some samples of anchovy, collected in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay for comparison.

Avian sentries welcomed Greg Shaughnessy back ashore at Westport Harbor. Staff aboard the RHIB launch and those aboard the skiff ride, turned their attention to the most pause worthy sunset of this cruise leg. 

After a couple days of low wind causing the SD1047 to be near standstill and falling further behind schedule, the wind picked up a bit on June 25. On June 25 and 26, the SD1047 was scooting along at ~1.4 kn over ground, and running nearshore transects 203 and 201. By Thursday, June 27, the SD1047 had slowed again to ~1 kn over ground. Staff are hoping for wind to increase, particularly when Lasker calls at Newport, OR, so the unmanned sailboat can catch-up to the ship.

June 23, 2019

As suspected, the catches on Wednesday night, June 19, off the coast of Cape Flattery, WA, included Pacific herring, northern anchovy, squid, and salmon – the usual mix for this area. The anchovy were caught close to shore where about five anchovy eggs were recorded in the CUFES earlier in the day, and where a small number of anchovy eggs were sampled in summer 2018.

By the afternoon of June 20, Lasker completed transect 109 and thereby finished sampling off Vancouver Island (VI). Most of the Coastal Pelagic Species backscatter off VI was in the south, near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is also similar to that observed in summer 2018. This year, however, the sardine eggs sampled off central and northern California were closer to the coast.

Lasker then rendezvoused with F/V Lisa Marie, and Greg Shaughnessy came aboard to observe the acoustic and trawl sampling. Greg is both inquisitive and informative, and plans to spend most of his time aboard studying the trawl operations and suggesting refinements. Within a couple hours, Mr. Shaughnessy had visited with almost everyone aboard the ship. Incredibly, crew then started to see multiple large fish schools on the echosounders, multibeam, and sonars, just north of Cape Flattery.

People in a boat with a ship in the background.

Fisher Greg Shaughnessy transferred from F/V Lisa Marie to Lasker, while the coxswain contended with a 3-m swell. During the transfer, acoustics staff worked aboard Lisa Marie to install software to mitigate “false bottom” noise in the echosounder data collected aboard the purse-seine fishing vessel. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

On Friday, June 21, while focused on the activities aboard Lasker and the rendezvous with F/V Lisa Marie, Saildrone launched SD1047 from Neah Bay and the unmanned, sail and sun-powered boat sampled the first two nearshore transects off WA, while telemetering a bounty of meteorological, oceanographic, and underwater acoustic data. However, light winds and strong, spring-tide currents made it difficult to precisely control the Saildrone while sampling nearshore. As a result, SD1047 had a close encounter with the rocks of Tatoosh Island. This event exemplifies the risk involved in sampling close to shore with an unmanned surface vehicle powered by variable forces over sparsely charted seabed.

Map displaying the saildrone location.

Saildrone launched SD1047 from Neah Bay, WA, and surveyed two nearshore transects (red), effectively extending Lasker’s transects (blue) into ~ 5-m depth. A decimated 38-kHz echogram (right) is telemetered from the unmanned sailboat, showing range to the seabed (uppermost thick red line) as well as echoes from zooplankton (blue patches near top) and herring schools (red patches near top).

On the night of June 21, Lasker trawled twice, west of Juan de Fuca Canyon, and caught Pacific herring. Despite the large catches, the team weighed, sorted, identified, measured and recorded in an organized and methodical manner.

Four photos of the crew during the catch and buckets of fish, mostly Pacific herring.

The catch on the night of June 21 included mostly Pacific herring, which were apportioned into liftable baskets, weighed, and their mass summed. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

F/V Lisa Marie has progressed to nearshore transect 195, off Yellow Bluff, about 15 nmi north of Westport, WA. Her recent catches have included white smelt, krill and northern anchovy, leaving herring to the north. This suggests that Laskershould encounter anchovy early the week of June 24.

June 16, 2019

Researchers observed many large Coastal Pelagic Species schools in echograms northwest of Drake’s Bay, but observed few during the transit farther offshore. Weather conditions accommodated the first 12 hours of the transit, then abruptly deteriorated as the ship passed Point Arena and Cape Mendocino. A speed of ~8-9 kn was maintained as the vessel lurched past Cape Blanco, and safety drills were dutifully, if uncomfortably, completed. Sea conditions improved and the speed increased to ~11- 12 kn. Calmer conditions are forecast for the next three to four days of planned transects off Vancouver Island.

Trawl sampling should begin on Sunday, June 16, on transect 129 off the coast of Cape Scott. The crew will begin acoustic transects there the following morning at sunrise. Later, off the coast of northern WA, the crew aims to transfer a representative of the fishing industry aboard the Lasker. Greg Shaughnessy will observe the acoustic-trawl operations for ~5 days. Meanwhile, F/V Lisa Marie will concomitantly sample, during 14 days, any Coastal Pelagic Species in the nearshore area off Washington and Oregon that is too shallow for Lasker to safely navigate.

June 14, 2019

The Summer 2019 California Current Ecosystem Survey began on June 13 from the Exploratorium Pier in San Francisco, California. Weather conditions accommodated the first twelve hours of the transit, then abruptly deteriorated as the ship passed Point Arena and Cape Mendocino. The speed is ~9 knots, as the vessel hugs the coast to minimize the discomfort. The forecast indicates that calmer conditions may be encountered off Washington and Vancouver Island.

Photo taken from the FSV Reuben Lasker with the golden gate bridge in the background.

FSV Reuben Lasker sailed beneath the Golden Gate bridge at the beginning of Leg I, 2019 CCES, beginning a ~3.5-day transit north to the first transect located off the north end of Vancouver Island, Canada. Photo: NOAA Fisheries.

Previous: 2018 California Current Ecosystem Survey

Last updated by Southwest Fisheries Science Center on July 09, 2021