The 2022 California Current Ecosystem Survey will be conducted by the Fisheries Resources Division at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, from NOAA ship Reuben Lasker. The primary objectives are to survey the distributions and abundances of coastal pelagic fish species (CPS), their prey, and their biotic and abiotic environments in the California Current between Cape Flattery, and Punta Eugenia, Baja California, June 27 to September 23, 2022.
Friday, September 30
On September 30, Lasker returned to San Diego after completing the final leg of the 2022 Summer California Current Ecosystem (CCE) Survey (2207RL). The scheduled 81-day survey was to start on June 27 and span the continental shelf between Cape Flattery, WA, and northern Baja California, Mexico. The survey aimed to estimate the distributions and biomasses of the five coastal pelagic fish species (CPS) in the CCE: Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus), jack mackerel (Trachurus symmetricus), and Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). This was the second U.S-Mexico collaboration to survey these CPS stocks south of the border. This summer, two Mexican scientists from INAPESCA joined the processing of trawl catches and Continuous Underway Fish-Egg Sampler (CUFES) samples aboard Lasker. Due to exceptionally numerous staffing issues within OMAO, Lasker completed only 51% of the planned days at sea, and only sampled transects from Cape Mendocino to Punta Baja, Baja California, Mexico. To partially compensate for the lost days at sea aboard Lasker, F/V Lisa Marie conducted acoustic transects and collected purse seine samples along nearshore-to-offshore transects, spaced 20 nmi-apart, between Cape Flattery and Bodega Bay, CA, overlapping with Lasker’s offshore transects between Cape Mendocino and Bodega Bay. Two uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs, Saildrone, Inc.; data not shown) were also reassigned to sample acoustic transects, spaced 20 nmi-apart, alternating with Lisa Marie’s transects between Westport, WA and Fort Bragg, CA. As originally planned, nearshore sampling was conducted from Bodega Bay to San Diego by F/V Long Beach Carnage (data not shown).
During Lasker’s actual 41 days at sea, daytime acoustic sampling was conducted along 65 transects totaling 7,200 nmi (Fig. 1a); and 90 underway Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth sensors (CTD) casts were conducted along transects to improve estimates of acoustic biomass. These data will be combined with catch data from 86 nighttime surface trawls (Fig. 2b) to estimate the length-specific biomasses of each species. Additionally, nearly 850 samples of pelagic eggs from spawning CPS were collected using the CUFES (Fig. 1c).
CPS were sampled throughout the area surveyed by Lasker (Fig. 1a). Jack mackerel eggs were most abundant north of San Francisco, and northern anchovy eggs were dominant in Central California and in the Southern California Bight (SCB; Fig. 1b). Jack mackerel comprised most of the CPS collected in trawls north of San Francisco and offshore in the SCB. Northern anchovy were most abundant in trawl catches between San Francisco and the northern Channel Islands, and between San Diego and Punta Baja off Baja California. The analysis of acoustic and biological data collected by the two fishing vessels and two USVs is underway and will ultimately contribute to the biomass estimates for the five CPS species encountered during this survey.
The Fisheries Resources Division would like to thank the many scientists, volunteers, and administrative staff who made this survey possible during the most challenging of times. We would also like to thank the command and crew of the NOAA Ship Lasker for their hard work during another long and arduous survey.
Friday, September 23
This week, the 2022 Summer Acoustic Trawl Method (ATM) Survey of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) aboard FSV Lasker progressed from Monterey to the Southern California Bight (SCB). On September 15, the acoustic lander was deployed off Pt. Conception. On September 16, scientists Davy Lowry and Daniel Hernandez embarked via a small boat from Santa Barbara. On September 22, the ship completed transect 077C to Newport Beach. In the SCB, putative backscatter from CPS (sardine, anchovy, mackerels, and herring) remains patchily distributed (see below). Trawl catches included mostly anchovy, jack mackerel, sardine, and the occasional Pacific mackerel at stations farther offshore. During Leg 4, CUFES samples included mostly anchovy eggs, sardine eggs nearshore off San Diego, and a few jack mackerel eggs offshore.
Sampling in the SCB should be complete by Saturday, September 24. We hope to complete acoustic and trawl sampling of the SCB that day and disembark scientist Brittany Schwartzkopf by small boat exchange in Mission Bay that evening. On September 25, we should resume sampling in MEXICO! We hope to progress to approximately Punta Baja, off Baja California Norte, before returning to San Diego on September 30 to complete the Summer 2022 survey.
Friday, September 16
On September 9, Lasker departed from 10th Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego to begin Leg 4 of the 2022 Summer Acoustic Trawl Method (ATM) Survey of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) off Monterey. On September 12, Lasker resumed acoustic sampling along transect 103C near Pacific Grove. Acoustic sampling has progressed at approximately two transects per day spaced 20-nmi apart, and three trawl samples have been collected each evening. Between Monterey and Piedras Blancas, CPS backscatter was observed along most of the transects and modest amounts of anchovy were collected in the nighttime trawls (see below). Between approximately Piedras Blancas and Pt. Conception, water temperatures have been warm (18-19 C, compared to <16 C farther north), acoustic backscatter has been sparse, and trawl catches have been relatively light. Anchovy eggs have been present close to shore. Lasker will reach approximately Pt. Conception by sunset on September 15, plans to deploy the acoustic lander soon afterward, and resume sampling into the Southern California Bight, where we are preparing to encounter anchovy again. Around sunset on September 16, two scientists will embark via small craft from Santa Barbara Harbor.
Friday, August 5
NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker does not have sufficient crew to begin Leg 3.
Friday, August 19
The Fisheries Resources Division’s Summer 2022 Survey of coastal pelagic fish species in the California Current Ecosystem continues, despite numerous lost sea days and inefficiencies on FSV Reuben Lasker. Due to insufficient crew, Leg I was completely canceled. Sampling off Washington, Oregon, and Northern California down to Bodega Bay, was instead performed by a contracted fishing vessel and two Saildrone USVs. Lasker conducted part of Leg II, but began late and finished early, allowing the survey to progress only to Monterey Bay, California.
Lasker is now scheduled to begin Leg III late and is expected to resume sampling off Monterey next week and progress to approximately Pt. Conception before returning to San Diego early to swing the ship’s compass and transfer crew. Then the ship will have a 7-day port call. If Lasker is ready, the Leg IV plan is to sail on September 6, and then finish sampling off the Southern California Bight (SCB) and off Baja California to Punta Eugenia. The permit to sample in Mexican waters has been approved.
Friday, August 26
After further delays to the 2022 Summer CPS Cruise due to insufficient crew, NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker plans to begin an abbreviated Leg 3 on Friday, August 26, from San Diego. Because the five-day cruise leg is insufficiently long to resume sampling near Monterey Bay, where Leg 2 concluded, the plan for Leg 3 is to sample transects in the Southern California Bight, progressing from San Diego towards Point Conception. After only four days of sampling, the ship plans to return to San Diego on the morning of Tuesday, August 30, to adjust the ship’s compass. One veteran scientist remarked, “Wow…This will be the shortest survey I’ve ever participated in.” The ship will then enjoy a seven-day stay in port over the Labor Day holiday weekend before departing for Leg 4.
Friday, September 2
The Summer 2022 CPS Survey concluded Leg 3 in San Diego on Tuesday, August 30. Leg 3 faced a number of setbacks related to short staffing, but FRD staff and volunteers came through to make the most of the days onboard. Chief Scientist Juan Zwolinski (AST) led Leg 3 and Steve Sessions (AST) managed acoustics. Amy Hays (Ship Ops) coved CUFES samples for 12-hour shifts in a solo effort over the course of the 5-day Leg. Jonathan Walker (Life History; CIMEAS) served as trawl lead, and he was supported by an ambitious team of first-time trawlers: Nico Concha Saiz (Ship Ops; FTE), Morgan Illman (volunteer), and Jake Wood (volunteer). Despite having to learn everything on the fly, the team was successful in completing three trawls on most nights, collecting data and samples for both target CPS and non-target species, and even accommodating sample requests from colleagues inside and outside the center.
Because Lasker had insufficient crew, the leg was only five days long. Therefore, instead of resuming where Leg 2 concluded, Leg 3 sampled even-numbered transects beginning at San Diego and progressed northwards.
High densities of northern anchovy schools were observed in the Southern California Bight (SCB), generally offshore, to the west of the Channel Islands but also nearshore close to Long Beach. Fewer Pacific sardine and jack mackerel were sampled in nominally the same areas. CTD profiles indicated warmer and saltier water in the SCB compared to the offshore waters in which most of the CPS were sampled during Leg 2. Correspondingly, the CPS that were sampled by the trawl team in warm, salty water during Leg 3 were all distinctly smaller than those sampled in cooler, fresher water during Leg 2.
Meanwhile, F/V Long Beach Carnage nearly finished sampling the nearshore area between Bodega Bay and San Diego; and two Saildrones nearly finished sampling transects spaced 20-nmi apart from Westport, WA to Bodega Bay, CA.
After Lasker uses the final day of Leg 3 to calibrate her compass, enjoys a 7-day port call, and uses the first day of Leg 4 to fuel, she may once again be short a second engineer and therefore will be unprepared to sail. Kevin Stierhoff (AST) will be Chief Scientist on Leg 4, assisted by ENS Alice Beittel (the new AST officer) as the second Acoustician. When Lasker is fully staffed and ready to sail, the plan is to transit north to Monterey Bay and sample odd numbered transects, spaced 20 nmi apart, and progress as far south as possible, optimally reaching Punta Eugenia, Baja California Norte, before the end of Leg 4 on September 30. The Mexican research permit has been approved, and three Mexican researchers will participate in CUFES and trawl teams during all or part of Leg 4.
During Leg 2, F/V Lisa Marie and NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker will alternate transects to allow purse-seine catches to be compared to nighttime trawl catches in the same areas between Cape Mendocino and Bodega Bay. Nearshore sampling will then be conducted by fishing vessel F/V Long Beach Carnage between Bodega Bay and San Diego.
Leg 2 Scientific personnel: CUFES and trawl: Kelsey James, Emily Gardner, Bill Watson, Ed Weber, Andrew Thompson, and Kamran Walsh (UCSD), and Acoustics: Dan Palance (UCSC) and Shannon Dolan (UCSD).
Leg 2 Support for setup and troubleshooting from: Ship’s personnel: SST Jackie Mazzella and ET Brian Thomas; and AST ashore: Dave Demer, Josiah Renfree, Kevin Stierhoff, and Dave Murfin.
Thursday, July 21
NOOA Ship Reuben Lasker left 10th Ave Marine Terminal and began a 750 nmi transited north to start scientific operations off Cape Mendocino for Leg 2. Staff attempted ADCP calibration near the San Diego sea buoy but had to abort due to unusual POS MV and EK80 signals for GPS and attitude. They will try again later in the leg.
Friday, July 22
Staff attempted to recover the acoustic lander off Point Conception but were thwarted by seas >10’ and winds > 35 kts. They will try again at the end of the leg.
Saturday, July 23
Dan Palance optimized SX90 settings to track distant CPS schools to the ship and into the EK80 and MS70 displays. Dan Palance and Shannon Dolan tested the uCTD system in calmer seas, and the deck box lost power. Troubleshooting by CME Colin Davis, SST Mazella, and Scott Mau and Dave Murfin helped restore the winch to operation, enabling a successful cast.
Shannon Dolan reviewed EK80 data in Echoview, noting that the 38 and 333 kHz backscatter data did not have GPS data. Guided by Josiah, SST Mazella and ET Thomas installed a secondary GPS input to the EK80s, solving the Echoview GPS issue. Josiah also contacted Echoview to have support added for the GPS data type required by the ES150-3C ADCP.
Just south of San Francisco, the team conducted a test trawl to familiarize the new deck crew with trawling operations and discovered a number of glitches, which they were able to resolve. Even with the open net during the test trawl, they ended up with a large amount of pyrosomes (which no one was excited about).
The weather deteriorated on Sunday, July 24, but calmed again overnight. At midnight, staff set their first trawl at the seaward end of transect 129 off Cape Mendocino. It was a blind trawl since there weren’t any schools of CPS seen in the acoustics and no CPS eggs in the CUFES, meaning there were no known targets. Ultimately, they caught a few myctophids and salps and lots of wash-down pyrosomes from the previous day’s test trawl.
Monday, July 25
EK80 GPS and attitude issues recurred at the start of the first transect (129C). Data from another source was used to process the acoustic data. The transect was completed mid-morning.
The ship then slowed to troubleshoot SX90 software issues and resolve the EK80 GPS issues. Josiah, SST Mazella, and Simrad representatives assisted with troubleshooting.
Midday, the ship resumed operations round lunchtime, initiating adaptive sampling on transect 128S, a saildrone transect. After finishing transect 128S, the EK80 GPS and attitude issues arose and then resolved again. During the last uCTD cast of the day, the winch lost power again. The CME investigated and his team helped recover the probe. The uCTD casts were suspended pending further investigation. A CTD cast was made prior to nighttime trawling. One trawl was set prior to midnight.
Tuesday, July 26
The second trawl of the night yielded two sardine and five jack mackerel.
Some additional exiting news is the introduction of electronic fish boards to this survey. This now allows staff to upload trawl data to the shipboard data acquisition software to further digitize data at sea and adding to the already present ichthyoplankton and CUFES data. A huge thanks to Ed Weber for all the time he’s invested to develop this program and help the teams reach this stage.
Wednesday, July 27
The third haul of the night caught 133 adult hake, along with a few sardine and jack mackerel. The hake were eating sardine in the net.
Thursday, July 28,
Nighttime sampling included 3 trawls, a CTD, and a bongo. Catches included 100 small hake in the first trawl, a few sardines in the second trawl, and jack Mackerel in nearly all trawls.
In the last 3 nmi of transect 122A, a large CPS school was observed at the surface, so the transect was extended by 5 nmi. Accordingly, transect 121C was extended by 5 nmi.
Using the remaining daylight while staying in the vicinity of the observed CPS schools, the ES150-3C ADCP was calibrated. The files were uploading for Josiah and Simrad to evaluate. Weather began to deteriorate, but was expected to improve in another day or two.
Friday, July 29
Catches from three sets included a few sardine and more jack mackerel. Scott Mau and Rachel Backman will join the ship via a small boat transfer at Point Arena.
F/V Long Beach Carnage is currently off San Francisco, observing anchovy schools and is heading to Bodega Bay to begin surveying the nearshore tomorrow morning. The echosounder system is working well. The high winds are expected to calm north of Point Reyes.
F/V Lisa Marie will finish transect 124 and start 122 tomorrow morning. After finishing transects 116 just north of Bodega Bay on August 1, the vessel will begin her 4-day transit back to Westport, Washington.
Friday, August 8
F/V Lisa Marie (green) and Saildrones (red and blue) sampled the northern area. Lisa Marie sampled 32 transects, from ~ 5 m depth to ~50 nmi offshore, with 41 purse-seine sets (triangles). NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker borrowed crew from Fairweather to begin sampling at Cape Mendocino (Purple). F/V Long Beach Carnage began nearshore sampling at Bodega Bay (Orange), including six purse-seine sets nearshore (diamonds), and reached Morro Bay by the end of Leg 2. Lasker’s trawl catches (circles) included mostly jack mackerel north of San Francisco, and anchovy to the south. Lasker ended Leg 2 at San Diego, three days early, when Fairweather recalled her crew.
Originally scheduled to depart for Leg 1 on June 27, the 2022 Summer CPS Survey got off to a late start as NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker was unprepared to sail. Luckily, two Saildrones and fishing vessel F/V Lisa Marie were able to acoustically sample transects off the Washington and Oregon coasts for the first leg. F/V Lisa Marie also sampled CPS schools using a purse-seine net.